Wagah review: A tottering script blanketed in hyperbole

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 12, 2016 11:39 IST
Tamil film Wagah is directed by Kumaravelan and stars Vikram Prabhu.

Director: GNR Kumaravelan
Cast: Vikram Prabhu, Ranya Rao, Karunas
Rating: 1/5

Wagah amply illustrates how badly a film can be made, and how irresponsibly.

Tamil cinema seems to be obsessed with numbers, and we are told that over 200 movies will be out in theatres before 2016 bids adieu -- the year witnessing the fastest 50 and the fastest 100 for the first time ever. So, filmmaking has begun to ape factory-line production in which quality is flung out of the window.

Wagah is a personification of this mad speed.

What is even more reprehensible is its content. At a time when India-Pakistan ties have hit a new low, and when the bone of contention between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, Kashmir, is burning, Kumaravelan produces a movie that tips over the top in its grossly exaggerated presentation of Pakistani soldiers -- who are shown as degradingly inhuman. They are caricatured beyond belief.

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Vikram Prabhu plays a Border Security Force soldier in Wagah.

Razzak Ali Khan (Shaji Choudhary) heads a border camp inside Pakistan where he humiliates and torments Indian prisoners, often forcing them to fight each other in do-or-die battles on marshy land. Does this resemble Roman gladiators who had to fight beasts? Or, does it take us back to Nazi torture camps?

And one of the prisoners is our hero, Vasu (Vikram Prabhu) -- a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan, stationed in Kashmir and who is captured not heroically chasing rebels into Pakistani territory, but escorting his lady love, Kanoam (but Vasu calls her Kajal, essayed by debutant Ranya Rao). On a brief visit to meet her grandfather -- who had elected to stay back in India after 1947, although his wife and others had gone away to the other side -- Kanoam falls in love with Vasu, a love at first sight, done to death in Tamil cinema.

Watch the trailer of Wagah here:

Troubled and traumatised in Khan’s camp, Vasu begins to feel the first stirrings of patriotism -- something he never felt before. Even his decision to join the BSF was for such juvenile reasons as little work and the availability of free booze! But after the severe beating he receives in the camp, Vasu is a different man -- who is desperate to get back to his love and also to free the other Indian inmates.

Kumaravelan’s script seems as messy as Vasu does in the opening scenes of Wagah. The director is completely at a loss -- unable to decide whether his work should be an epic romance or a lesson in patriotism. There is one sequence when Vasu is fisting (every time he gets hold of a gun, he throws it away!) the Pakistani soldiers to the background score of Vande Mataram. Clearly a case of trying to force patriotic fervour out of the audiences.

In this muddle, Wagah begins to look like an awfully amateurish effort.

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Vikram Prabhu’s character transforms from young man with juvenile reasons to join the forces like free liqour to becoming a different man altogether.

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