Banner: Irada Entertainment
Producers: Falguni Patel, Prince Soni
Director: Aparnaa Singh
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Divya Dutta, Sagarika Ghatge, Sharad Kelkar, Rajesh Sharma
Writers: Aparnaa Singh and Anushka Rajan
Music: Neeraj Shridhar
Years ago, we watched A Wednesday, where Naseeruddin Shah, in the role of the common man, took on the system. And here’s Irada, a film on the same lines. Is it more powerful or impactful than A Wednesday?
Although the writer and director of the film try their best, the screenplay is not as inspiring or impactful as that of A Wednesday. However, they deserve applause for their attempt to make a thought-provoking film, while also keeping it entertaining.
Most social thrillers are either too preachy or they resemble documentaries. It requires great skill to strike a balance between the two. Also, now that there is a constant demand for socially relevant and content-driven cinema, filmmakers have to pull up their socks to live up to the expectations of the audience. Irada showcases the skills of Aparnaa Singh, who is making her first feature film in the realistic cinema genre.
The film is set in the small town of Bathinda in Punjab, where cancer is endemic. Parabjeet Walia (Naseeruddin Shah), an ex-army man, has lost his daughter after a battle with lung cancer. He has no medical background yet he wants to delve into his daughter’s death, which he believes was the result of a conspiracy.
He suspects Paddy Sharma (Sharad Kelkar), who plays the role of a philanthropist and founder of an organisation named PPFPL, which promotes health and well-being. While Sharma is loved by all, he has a darker side known to only a few, who wish to blow the whistle on him and his organisation.
Also, Paddy finds an ally in Ramandeep Braitch, the corrupt Chief Minister of Punjab (Divya Dutta). There is also Maya Singh (Sagarika Ghatge), a journalist, who also wants to seek revenge for her boyfriend’s death. Things take a turn for the worse in the town, when there is a bomb blast at the PPFPL power plant. While the media speculates terrorism, we are introduced to a NIA investigating officer, Arjun Mishra (Arshad Warsi). While Mishra suspects Walia’s involvement in the blast, he can’t help but join forces with Singh and Walia to unearth the truth and blow the lid on a scam that is threatening many lives. This forms the crux of the story.
Aparnaa Singh’s direction makes Irada a gripping and an intriguing film, which opens your eyes to some harsh realities in the world. She and Anushka Rajan have together written a tight script. The screenplay, however, falters in several places when the narrative shifts from corruption to cancer-stricken patients and their loved ones. In various instances, you feel compelled to empathise with them.
However, when you have actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Divya Dutta, you tend to overlook the flaws in writing. Their performances are so flawless that you’re in awe of their talent. That’s why the scenes between Shah and Warsi, and Warsi and Dutta are major highlights of the film. In fact, the film is worth watching only for its plot and performances by these three actors.
Performance-wise, as mentioned earlier the film belongs to Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Divya Dutta. Naseeruddin Shah, as always, is in his element and makes the film worth a watch with his sheer brilliance. Arshad Warsi, once again, delivers a bravura performance. His one-liners are brilliant. It is hard to imagine Divya Dutta essaying a grey character or playing a villain but she’s fantastic in the movie. Her speech during the pre-climax is fantastic. Sharad Kelkar is very good. Sagarika Ghatge is all right. Rajesh Sharma in an ill-defined character is just about okay. The actress who plays Naseeruddin Shah’s daughter in the film is superb.
Verdict: Worth a dekho!