Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut and Richard McCabe
Genre: Period Drama
Eagerly awaited, Vishal Bharadwaj’s latest cinematic venture weaves a love triangle, among the setting of India in 1943, when Gandhi’s Quit India Movement was at its peak, Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army was targeting the British, and the colonial rulers were involved in World War II. However, with these diverse strands, the plot of the film falls flat, and leads to a facile climax, all over the course of nearly three hours!
Kangana plays Miss Julia, a character inspired by stuntwoman Fearless Nadia, with zeal and a stunning sentimentality that only someone like her can achieve. She is the prize possession of actor turned producer Rusi Bilimoria, (Saif Ali Khan) who seems to live out his unfulfilled climatic dreams through his protégé. She later meets army general Nawab Ali (Shahid Kapoor) while on her way to entertain the troops in Burma, where the former rescues her. While Rusi searches for his pet, Nawab and Julia start falling in love. Who will Julia choose is the central premise of this movie, where war just serves as a spectacular backdrop.
The performances of the three leads is believable and each actor embodies their character with Kangana mixing fierceness with a soft heart, Shahid taking a grim role as an army man who has seen a lot of sorrow in his life, and Saif looking every bit the royal in his suits.
The only sour note is Richard McCabe’s performance which comes off more comical than villainous. The film has an aura of old Hollywood to it, with Saif referring to Kangana as ‘kiddo,’ while the digital way the war scenes have been shot as well as the more modern music, composed by Bhardwaj and penned by Gulzar, add a contemporary feel to the proceedings.
What is interesting to note is that all three main characters are not from a majority religion in India, allowing the film to not take on overzealous patriotic tones, and showcasing war film in India without a Hindu lead, a rare instance indeed! Sadly, while there are glimpses of subversion and great plot threads, the film ends up a jumble, without any real take away. The best part of the film is the lush cinematography which will capture your attention throughout.