Rahul Dholakia directed an outstanding movie called PARZANIA a few years back and this was based on the Gujarat Riots. It was an extremely hard hitting movie with stellar performances by the whole cast. Based on the end result of that effort, Rahul perhaps felt that he needed to do a movie on the Kashmir situation to be able to draw people’s attention to the real happenings there. Quite a noble intention, one could say, but for that to become an outstanding cinematic experience would have required a more experienced director.
LAMHAA (I did not see any connect between the title and the contents) progresses briskly right from the start and keeps up its furious pace throughout the movie. The underlying theme too is stressed every now and then to make sure that the audience does not forget that there is no one who really and sincerely cares for the Kashmiris. Everyone is seen to be having their own private agenda, be it the Indian Government, the local government, the army, the cops, the religious leaders or the terrorist organizations. The sole crusader, who sincerely feels for the locals is the role played out by Kunal Kapoor. However the deadpan manner in which he delivers the dialogues seem to indicate that he perhaps did not “feel” what he is supposed to be speaking. What a different Kunal we had seen in “Rang De Basanti”! Giving him support is Aziza, a character played by Bipasha Basu, her most unglamorous role till date. But the role demands much more than appearing fully clothed and without make-up and Bipasha lets us down sadly.
Anupam Kher brings some semblance of realism in his role of a rabble rouser and Sanjay Dutt, playing the part of an undercover agent meanders along. The problem with Lamhaa is its shallow script which seems to cover too many characters without really going deep into the issue. In fact, in the first half, the scenes change rapidly and just when the frame is getting to be an attention garnering one. The fault therefore lies in the director having been carried away by his desire to repeatedly communicate the exploitation and persecution of the locals by the greedy and scheming machinery all round.
Lamhaa has its share of pluses too. For once, thankfully there is no pontification; there is no melodrama and does not offer any simplistic solution. There are a few scenes which remind us of the director’s touch in Parzania: the scenes of indoctrination of innocent children and their being made bomb carriers are extremely well done.
I was surprised as to why this movie was supposed to be banned in the Middle East; if at all anybody could have been offended, it should have been the Government of India on account of all the insinuations. By giving this movie a censor certificate, the Government has certainly shown as to how progressive it has become in its ability to handle criticism leveled against itself. That is the real winner!