Producer: Vashu Bhagnani
Director: Ranjit M. Tewari
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Lara Dutta, Adil Hussain, Thalai Vaasal Vijay, Dolly Ahluwalia, Sunit Tandon, Denzil Smith, Zain Khan, Abhijeet Lahiri
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
By Jyothi Venkatesh
Please do not do the cardinal mistake of setting out to watch the film on your OTT presuming that it is the Kannada film of the same title which is an out and out hilarious comic capper, because this is Akshay Kumar’s fifth film indulging the whole hog with patriotism blended by the mother –son sentiment to lure the family audiences over the last six years, like Baby, Airlift and Kesari. Like Shershaah and Bhuj, this one too is “inspired by true events”. Like them, it excavates a past decade and glorifies an agency safeguarding national security: Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
The film opens to the 1984 hijack and then cuts to a flashback where we meet Anshul Malhotra’s wife Radhika (Vaani Kapoor) and mother Raavi (Dolly Ahluwalia). The film revolves out and out around an undercover agent code-named Bellbottom embarks on a covert mission to free 210 hostages held by hijackers. The evergreen hero is almost like a Rajinikant, an all rounder, who is a national level chess champion, a singer, a French instructor, and hey presto, also an IAS aspirant.
The Indian cabinet ministers including the Prime Minister Morarji Desai is also shown in a flashback to 1979 while a lot of inordinate leeway is given to General Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, all such implications very Uri-like. Though in the flashback scenes, he does seem over aged to take part in UPSC exams, he passes out in flying colors too and proving that he is a staunch Modi bhakt, our hero who looks slim, fit, agile and dapper at 53 even says a line that reminds you of an election campaign: “Abki baar, unki haar.”
Also read: Mumbai Diaries 26/11 review: Captivating!
As far as performances go, undoubtedly, Akshay Kumar is in full form and dependably strong and does justify his complex role by doing his part seriously with a lot of honesty. Portraying Indira Gandhi on screen is no mean feat but Lara Dutta does that and what’s more looks confident and convincing in the part. Kumar’s mother is played by Dolly Ahluwalia and they share some touching and emotional as well as funny hilarious scenes together.
Vaani Kapoor, for once leaves an impact in her role as a housewife though she has a very small screen presence while Huma Qureshi shines in a very different role and scores to a large extent. Mention ought to be made of newsreader and former IFFI Director Sunit Tandon for tackling his role as ISI Chief with aplomb Zain Khan is a good discovery as Doddy the terrorist controlled by Pakistan while Thalai Vaasal Vijay and Denzil Smith too are good in their parts. As usual, Adil Hussain is exemplary. Music plays a deterrent in this film as songs pop in at all the wrong places and irritate you.
On the while, the film is deft and worth watching at least once on your OTT platform, though it would be any day better to see it on a 3D screen in a cinema theatre