Khuda Haafiz movie review: Vidyut Jammwal will find you and he will kill you in this entertaining but flawed thriller
Khuda Haafiz movie review: Vidyut Jammwal is a software engineer with a very special set of skills in this Faruk Kabir action thriller.
Director: Faruk Kabir
Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Shivaleeka Oberoi, Ahana Kumra, Shiv Panditt
The woman-rescue trope has been a staple in cinema. Princesses and brides have forever gone missing and valiant men have scaled mountains and seas in search of them, battling villains and befriending golden-hearted strangers on their way. Over time, the sleeping princesses became teenage daughters and the brave princes became fathers with a ‘very particular set of skills’. But at the core of it, the Taken genre is not vastly different from the fairytales we all grew up with.
Watcht the trailer for Khuda Haafiz here:
Faruk Kabir’s Khuda Haafiz is a modernised version of the same. A damsel is in distress and our hero tears through heavens to bring her back. Sure, it makes for one entertaining watch, but it rarely surprises you.
Khuda Haafiz is said to be inspired by true events about a man’s search for his wife. Vidyut Jammwal plays a software engineer, Sameer, who marries Shivaleeka Oberoi’s call centre employee, Nargis. Their blissful world comes crashing down during the 2007-2008 Recession and they both lose their jobs, forcing them to find employment overseas.
The wife finds a job in a fictitious Middle Eastern country called Noman. He bids her goodbye, hoping to join her in a few days. However, a day later, he gets the dreaded Taken call. The panicked wife tells him that she has been abducted and is being ill-treated by men she does not know. The husband charges straight into Noman International Airport, looking for his missing wife. After suffering an unhelpful Nomani Police and a lazy Indian Embassy, a friendly taxi driver, played by Annu Kapoor, is godsend.
Together, the husband and the driver discover a flesh trade racket in the heart of Noman and his wife trapped in it. With or without the help of police, our software engineer fights 20 men at once, kills a few, drives over a couple of them, all to bring his wife back home.
However, considering Vidyut’s filmography so far, the action is indeed toned down quite a bit. Even with him tackling a couple of dozen men all at once, the action does not seem totally unbelievable. He is not pulling off any helicopter kicks or leaping off cranes but stabbing a man with a fork or throwing chillies in the eyes of another. There is an impromptu, non-choreographed quality to the fight scenes that brings some semblance of reality. Now, only if they didn’t play romantic tunes over shots of blood sprouting out of a goon’s jugular vein.
The music is definitely not the most imaginative. Establishing shots of ‘Noman’ are always preceded by stereotypical ‘Middle Eastern music’ straight out of Alif Laila. Ouds resound every time a bearded general appears, a mob boss smokes hookah or we see a drone shot of any building with a dome. It’s old, it’s lazy and it’s been done to death.
The Nomani public -- had it actually existed -- would not have been too happy with the representation of their accents either. Now of course there is no Nomani accent to really compare it with but whatever Shiv Panditt and Ahana Kumra were trying to pull off, that wasn’t it. Their accents grow thick and thin with every alternate scene, and each time is more embarrassing than before. While Annu Kapoor did seem more a natural fit in the land of Noman, it was uncanny that so many characters conveniently knew Hindi.
Such a shame though that one of the persons who does know Hindi, gets hardly any opportunity to open her mouth. The first time we meet Nargis, the smitten husband mutes out her voice, just to bask in her beauty. Then on, Shivaleeka merely gets a couple of lines in and nothing thereafter. So little do we know about her that it is hard not to simply think of her as lost luggage on a flight. Even though she is the one who gets abducted, sold into flesh trade and drugged out of her mind, there is not a scene, a minute devoted to actually humanise her.
Khuda Haafiz, therefore, is not without flaws, but it works as an action thriller. Vidyut conveys the nervousness and fear of a man who has lost someone he loves. The dolly zooms and the Snorricam do add to the effect as well. Panic descends upon him when he gets the call, it shows in his eyes and shaking body. Even when the early shock subsides, he carries the nervousness with him.
A by-the-book thriller, Khuda Haafiz is just entertaining enough. Dive even an inch deeper and the flaws are there for anyone to see.
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