30 October 2010 | Peter_Young
Echoes of terror from Kashmir
Vidhu Vinod Chopra's films are always extremely well made in terms of both writing and technique. They're often much more realistic, mature, and the stories are often issue-based and serious. Mission Kashmir is no exception in this regard. It's an impressive and enjoyable movie set in the valley of Kashmir and once again dealing with the ceaseless conflicts between India and Pakistan. The story follows a young boy named Altaaf who is adopted by Inayat Khan, a police officer who unintentionally killed his entire family while trying to eliminate terrorists right after the death of his son. Altaaf lives with Inayat and his wife Neelima for a couple of years, gradually starting to consider them his parents and forgetting the tragic accident. But one day he finds out the truth and runs away. Finding refuge in a terrorist group led by Hilal Kohistani, Altaaf grows up to be a deeply tormented and angry young man who decisively wants to kill the man who killed his family and whom he himself considered to be his own father.
Mission Kashmir shows how crucially tragic events happening at times of a war affect the lives of children and their perception of life, all through the character of Altaaf. His life is miserable and not one single day goes by without the terrible images of his parents' death popping up in his mind and torturing him to no end. As a result he seeks revenge at any cost, believing this will relieve his pain. This message was conveyed very efficiently and the moral of the story is truly laudable. Technically, the movie is marvelously slick. The cinematography is stupendous, the editing is fantastic, the background score perfectly suits the film's atmosphere and dark mood. The music, composed by Shankar Ehsaan-Loy, is generally good, though some of the songs are less necessary. In fact, numbers like "Bumbro" and "Maaf Karo" were too joyful for an intensely dramatic feature like this. The film is very well written - with brilliant dialogues that some of may be a bit sentimental at points but are overall effective enough for the film.
On the flip side, I think the terrorism thing could have been a little toned down. I could not understand why Altaaf had to find solace in being a part of a terrorist group. At times I also felt his character was a bit over the top. I'm referring to his overly strong will to take revenge. The relationship portrayed between Altaaf and Sufiya Parvez, his childhood friend and current love interest, was a little under-developed. I mean, they met after 10 long years and instantly became a pair. Well, the movie still could rise above these flaws with its technical brilliance and interesting story, and above all, many great scenes. I think the action scenes were refreshingly good in this movie, and the climax was very good. One of the film's best scenes is the one in which Altaaf tells his girlfriend that he can see nothing but blood and scary scenes of murder and she offers him to try and look at the world through her eyes. There starts a nice peaceful song, "Chupke Se Sun".
The acting is roundly excellent, and the one who leads the cast is undoubtedly Sanjay Dutt. He is excellent in his role and delivers one of his finest performances - natural, heartfelt and great. Hrithik Roshan is wonderful in some scenes and over-expressive in others, but overall is well cast in the role of a tormented young man, which he plays with sincerity and style. Preity Zinta shines as the young TV reporter and Altaaf's love interest. The chemistry between Roshan and Zinta is very good. Sonali Kulkarni is outstanding as Neelima Khan. She is compelling and moving and plays her character's suffering and pain with depth. The character of Jackie Shroff looked really like a caricature villain to me at some points. To sum it up, Mission Kashmir is one entertaining and well made film which, in spite of its flaws here and there, manages to move and impress. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's direction is very good, and so is the film's message. It's definitely worth watching and for more than one reason.