At: PVR and other cinemas
Directed by Rahul Dholakia
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Basu, Kunal Kapoor, Anupam Kher and others
RAHUL DHOLAKIA’S last film Parzania, against the backdrop if the Gujarat riots was hard-hitting and dare take a contentious stand. His new film Lamhaa declares that it tells the untold story of Kashmir, and you except -- and hope for -- a piece of cinema that goes beyond Bollywood cliches.
Dholakia has shot in Kashmir and it is stunningly beautiful. He has also used a documentary style to capture the streets, bylanes and everyday life in the state. No fake cheery visuals of flowers-laden shikaras on Dal Lake, and rosy-cheeked girls in phirans. He captures the grimy reality of a state reeling under terror and the lack of a political will to solve the terrible problems afflicting the people.
But he also ends up falling into the Bollywood trap and makes a film full of the usual politicians-are-the-baddies cliches. Nothing that the audience doesn't already know. Sanjay Dutt plays Vikram an Intelligence man who is sent undercover to find out about a brewing plot. He walks conspicuously around the city, a keffiyeh flamboyantly wrapped around his neck and asks questions and, surprisingly, gets correct answers. It were that easy, Kashmir would not have been such a problem.
The theory that Dholakia keeps repeating is that various groups have turned Kashmir into a ‘company’ and profit by it. He comes up the notion that militancy is stoked in Kashmir because it ensures large budgets for the ministry concerned. Ultimately, it is one politician (Anupam Kher), who is behind it all. As if the huge terrorism issue is one of his little backyard and not an international headache, as it was once famously described.
Bipasha Basu is miscast as a Kashmiri women's activist, while Kunal Kapoor does well as an aspiring politician. Sporadically the film gives a small hint of something it might have turned out to be, were it not tied up with star glamour -- the track about the half-widows of Kashmir, and the innocent kids indoctrinated with hate and sacrificed.
But for the daring and frankly curious camerawork, nothing much to recommend in this disappointing film.