Director: Kamlesh Mishra
Cast: Anuj Sharma, Pankaj Tripathi, Susain Brar and Amita Walia
Platform of Release: OTT Mask TV
By Jyothi Venkatesh
Basically, the film, which has taken a lot of time to make, revolves around the story of Aamir (Anuj Sharma) who gets trapped in the terrorising world of Islamic fundamentalists. Before his departure, the maulvi of Azamgarh, Ashraf Ali (Pankaj Tripathi), is arrested in connection with bomb blasts in Delhi. In Aligarh, Aamir is prodded on by Muslims to join Ashraf Ali’s gang. Although hesitant at first, Aamir eventually relents.
Soon, Ashraf is out on bail, and he reunites with Aamir, along with a few other gang members that include Aadil (Susain Brar) and Kamil (Sudarshan Bhatt). Fellow townsmen taunt Aamir, saying that he will follow in the footsteps of the terrorists. He goes to Aligarh Muslim University, intending to study with honourable intentions, but becomes highly introverted. Aamir becomes a sympathizer of their cause and is finally initiated into their group of ‘jehadis’ and ‘fedayeen’.
The film’s theme is laudable, but the treatment and direction fail to do justice to the issue. Mishra has a very thin storyline to work on and depends a lot on the climax to get his message through. All characters are stereotypes, including the brilliant student, his pious mother, the taunting townsmen, the TV anchors, the recruiting henchmen, the terrorists, and the police inspector. Pankaj Tripathi is miscast as Ashraf Ali. He remains Pankaj Tripathi for most of the film. There is so much screen time given to TV news footage that you feel a jarring note.
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The film’s editing leaves a lot to be desired. It has been reported that this was to be a 60-minute film but has been expanded to 90 minutes on the editing table. If this is true, the act has done disservice to the project. Mishra pays tribute to the great men who were born in Azamgarh, like Maulana Shibli Nomani and the poet-lyricist Kaifi Azmi, and laments the fact that, of late, Azamgarh is in the news for the wrong reasons.
Azamgarh fails to deliver a compelling narrative or engage its audience in a meaningful way. The film lacks the finesse and nuance needed to do justice to the subject matter. It is a disappointing debut for director Kamlesh Mishra who fails to explore a complex and timely issue.