Torbaaz movie review: Sanjay Dutt’s dry spell continues with Netflix’s uninspired offering
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Rahul Dev, Nargis Fakhri
Director: Girish Malik
It is a stretch to call Torbaaz a film. If we take the cricket metaphor – the idea central to this Sanjay Dutt starrer – it feels like you are watching the net session of the B-team, the aspirants who will never make it to the playing XI and they know it. Instead of putting their best into the practice, they are dragging their feet, throwing a few wides because, heck, what is there to lose? Some of them, the scriptwriters perhaps, want to return to the bench and watch whatever is going viral online. Having found a great idea, they think they have done their day’s work and deserve a break, and if asked to do more, they intend to wing it.
Watch Torbaaz trailer
The result is a great thought which is mangled beyond recognition with dialogues as stale as yesterday’s naan, action that is all over the place, and actors sleepwalking through their parts. Other than a few good moments, as fresh-faced children decided to be children, it is hard to invest in the film despite its poignant and pertinent subject – a global conflict and its effect on children.
Directed by Girish Malik, Torbaaz takes us deep inside war-torn Afghanistan (a dressed-up Kyrgyzstan), with innocence at stake as rugged-faced men up to no good kidnap children to train them as suicide bombers. Former Army doctor Nasser Khan (Sanjay Dutt) reaches Kabul to help his friend Ayesha (Nargis Fakhri), who runs an NGO for children there. He has lost his wife and son to a suicide attack in the country, and is reluctant in his new role.
A change of heart later, he decides to play the mediator among a rag-tag bunch of refugee children. Cricket becomes the binding force as Nasser traverses the faultlines of Pashtun-Hazara and Pakistan-Afghanistan conflicts, played among the children. Unknown to him, among the kids is Baaz who has been trained as a suicide bomber by a mujahideen leader Qazar (Rahul Dev). As Nasser’s team heads towards an all-important match so do the nefarious plans of the militant leader amid talk of jannat and jehad.
No prizes for guessing how Torbaaz ends but it is the game of cricket that livens up things, especially when the focus is entirely on the children. They introduce some momentum in a film that is sluggish right from the word go. Especially the child actor who plays Chota Sadiq (Rehan Shaikh) has the street smarts to carry off the role.
Sanjay Dutt appears in yet another world-weary role this year. The best we can say about his vehicle is that it is not the roadkill that was Sadak 2, but that is hardly a compliment. For an actor that retains his charisma and screen presence, Sanjay really needs to choose his films with more thought.
Sports as unifier in a country ravaged by war is a great story that deserves an inspired telling, especially when it involves the most vulnerable section -- the children. The slides at the end of the film tell us that many members of the Afghan cricket team have braved these impossible odds to shine on the 22 yards. It only makes me feel sadder about what a massive opportunity has been lost in Torbaaz.