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Movie Review: Omerta

Banners: Swiss Entertainment Pvt.

Ltd., Karma Media & Entertainment

Producer: Nahid Khan

Director: Hansal Mehta

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Timothy

Hickernell, Keval Arora

Writers: Mukul Dev (story), Hansal

Mehta (screenplay)

Music: Ishaan Chhabra

In Omerta, we have a director who has proved his worth in making scintillating movies based on real people, and an actor who can embody those people flawlessly. This strong team of Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao has shown us their realistic magic with Shahid, Citylights and Aligarh. Now, they present a story that takes their love for realism and hard-hitting content to the next level.

Omerta is a biographical docu-drama which will both chill and thrill the audience. But, it will also leave you a tad dissatisfied as this otherwise gripping film is very anti-climactic at the end.

The story is about Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a young man of Pakistani origin who has been raised in England. Coming from an educated family, a young Omar is focused on his life and his studies but is very disturbed by the atrocities of the Bosnian War of 1992, where many Muslims residing in that region were killed.

Vowing to help his brothers, Omar travels to Pakistan and is trained by a militant group. Gunning for jihad and justice for the Muslim community, he gets field as well as intelligence training. The story then takes us through Omar’s biggest missions in India and Pakistan and how those, along with his participation in others, made him one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

Mehta has stayed true to the genre of docu-drama by using actual footage of incidents as well as people in the narrative. This makes the story very real for the audience. This footage, which includes terrorist attacks as well as the statements of politicians on these attacks, makes the story extremely interesting.

This realism and its impact are further strengthened by glimpses of the real Omar Saeed Sheikh, which have been included in the film. It also points to the authenticity that the makers and the actor have striven to achieve in the film.

One of the many reasons for the film’s credibility is that it does not glorify the central character, which often takes place in movies like this. The director has shown the character’s justification for his heinous actions but the narrative doesn’t lean to any side, right or wrong.

Omerta takes you through some spine-chilling moments of the terrorist attacks that we already had knowledge of. The director concentrates on two prominent terrorist missions in Omar’s life, one of which was the abduction and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The intensity in that entire stretch is palpable and dreadful, which is exactly what the maker intended it to be.

There is a dark beauty to how the violent sequence of Omar was shot. Mehta has refrained from crossing the line to being gory and showing the bashed, bloodied victim and instead has maintained the horror of the act through Rajkummar Rao’s movements and disturbing sound effects.

But, there are a few touch points in the film where the audience is left begging for more information. The director fails to translate the inner conflict of Omar and what made him into a terrorist. We see the character reciting the Quran and spreading his interpretation of Allah’s words, and a few other scenes that suggest his religious fanaticism. But, why a young, educated man would leave everything behind and take this as a calling is a question that is not adequately answered in the film.

The editing of the film by Aditya Warrior is crisp and the back-and-forth flow of the storyline in Omar’s life has been executed smoothly. Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s cinematography is also strong, especially in the scenes where the character is training at the militant camp.

While this is a brave attempt by Hansal Mehta to come up with not only as a bold subject but also to make sure its treatment was correct, the docu-drama genre is not very popular among the Indian audience. There is conviction in the story along with sequences that suggest a lot of research but the flaws in the film bring it down a couple of notches.

Performance-wise, the movie revolves around Omar Saeed Sheikh played by Rajkummar Rao and, as always, he has done a phenomenal job as the ruthless, fanatical terrorist. The British accent, the dark intensity and that proud, chilling smile at the end shows us how Rao can mould himself into any character he is given. Keval Arora, who plays Rao’s father, is good. Portraying the role of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, actor Timothy Hickernell has also delivered a strong performance.

 

Verdict: Worth a dekho!

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