Unfortunately, the only convincing performance is Puri’s embittered, introspective leader, who rants on about his grudges against the authorities and harks back to India’s bloody partition 50 years ago (giving an inkling of how deep-seated terrorists’ grievances can be).
Looking lifted from a slick TV show, the two attractive young principals, Singh and Tabu, are given minimal material to make their characters plausible. Worse, the script (penned by director Gulzar) frequently flouts logic for effect, as in the scene in which Pali, now on the police’s most wanted list, returns home for a visit that endangers the whole family.
Foreigners may feel lost by the film’s politics, but it scarcely matters that Pali belongs to one group rather than another. The fact that viewers are asked to identify with Pali and Viran to the end, despite what they think and do, indicates that helmer Gulzar doesn’t take his characters very seriously. In one stupefying scene that runs completely counter to audience emotion, the hero Pali witnesses Puri’s leader blowing up a bus full of innocent people and immediately decides to become a terrorist, too.
Pic excited much debate on its release in India about whether it could be construed as pro-terrorist. Police brutality, against which all legal recourse is shown as useless, is persuasively depicted as one reason why local folk feel “the country is not ours.” But pic generally sidesteps political issues and uses terrorist acts strictly for dramatic effect.
Music by Vishal includes a few obligatory song-and-dance numbers. Tech credits are generally well done.