India’s Most Wanted movie review: This Arjun Kapoor film about intelligence isn’t particularly bright
India’s Most Wanted
Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma
Rating: 2 stars
Raj Kumar Gupta has style. I loved the cuts to music in Aamir, the slow-burn intensity of No One Killed Jessica, the convoluted whimsy of Ghanchakkar. I’m therefore disappointed by India’s Most Wanted, a well-meaning thriller too restrained to be memorable. While the basic idea is fine — a ragtag team of unimpressive men setting out to capture “India’s Osama” — there is little that leaves an impact.
Watch the trailer for India’s Most Wanted here:
The film subscribes to the problematic trend of underscoring scenes of terrorism with strains of Islamic music, as if qawwals build bombs. The idea is to generate a Pavlovian association, showing terrorists as Urdu-speaking, religiously motivated believers, while the good guys have an Om sticker on their Scorpio.
These good guys don’t seem good at anything. Their investigations are based on hunches and commitment instead of actual strategy. The film prizes intent and determination, with Arjun Kapoor as an unheroic leader. All we learn about his Prabhat Kapoor is that he loves his country, and that he’s patient. He may be a maverick, but he tries to communicate by the book.
Nine Indian men drive two SUVs into Kathmandu. The lack of any women in this holidaying group makes the border control officer immediately suspicious, but cross-border opposition is deployed lazily. Pakistani forces take their time. Times have changed, and Indian policemen aren’t the ones who reach the scene after the climax these days.
There are a few neat touches. The film uses Shah Rukh Khan’s immigration woes in America to kickstart its narrative. The terrorists are shown as big money players, leaving 200% tips when out bombing — in contrast to the Indian desperadoes who have to share a beer at a bar. There’s a delightful visual of a Pakistani intelligence officer hurrying through an office, adaab-ing rapidly as he strides, and the filmmakers make Kathmandu look great.
All this film needed to be was smart. It is thorough — there is much waiting around and scrutiny of agents and potential double-agents — but for a film about intelligence, this isn’t particularly bright.
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