Lamhaa – the repeatedly told story of Kashmir!!
We must sincerely come up with a list of subjects for our new film makers… it’ll save us the time and embarrassment of a wasted film! There have been several films on the issue of Kashmir throughout bollywood history and whenever a director decides to tread on an existing path he must make sure that he has something really innovative and worthwhile to offer. Lamhaa makes an attempt but falls short miserably.
Before we get to the story of the film, let’s familiarize ourselves with a few historical significances about the chaos reigning in Kashmir. Since 1987, disputed State elections have resulted in some of the state's legislative assembly forming militant wings, creating the catalyst for the insurgency; the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been the site of conflict between the Indian Armed Forces, militants and separatists. There have been protest movements in Indian Administered Kashmir since 1989. The movements were created to voice Kashmir's disputes and grievances with the Indian government, specifically the Indian Military. Since then many have lost their lives for this.
In the ever burning valley of Kashmir two major activist groups struggle to steal public adoration. Separatist leader, Baba Haji (Anupam Kher) nurses hope for an Azad Kashmir via his party PKF which is hand-in-hand with various Pakistani and Afghani forces… but all for the dream of a peaceful Kashmir. On the other hand a militant-turned-politician Atif has turned a new leaf and wants freedom through peace. Amidst this struggle is undercover military agent Vikram (Sanjay Dutt) who’s out to find and prevent the next big trouble brewing in Kashmir which is so big that it will end up repeating and even superseding the insurgency that festered in Kashmir in 1989. Also in this battle is Aziza (Bipasha Basu) the daughter of a martyred leader who was gunned down by the military. Aziza is hot blooded and she’s a major part of Haji’s PKF but the grime of politics comes as a surprise to Aziza when she discovers the horrible secrets behind PKF while investigating a blast.
Lamhaa could have made for a very impacting film had the script and performances backed it. With a length of just a little over 2 hours, Lamhaa has a promising start but quickly dwindles into a masala engorged fiasco which hopes to feed some unintelligent undercover tactics to it’s audience. What’s most annoying is that the film takes liberty to occasionally break into songs which disrupt its pace and quite frankly are unnecessary; especially the Bips and Kunal Kapoor number… their relationship in the film is as it is unclear and the song just botches it up further. Sanjay Dutt’s method of extracting important information from an ordinary tailor is very unbelievable; also the whole idea of him adapting a false identity is very half-explained. Why does he chose to become Gul Jehangir… what is his undercover profession and many other pivotal questions are left unanswered in the film.
Lamhaa does have a couple of soul stirring moments though, one of them that hit me quite a lot was small children being trained to chant “Aayi, aayi Lashkar aayi… Bharat teri maut aayi”!! … Very disturbing.
Though the concept is nice but the performances in the film are very weak. Kunal Kapoor doesn’t evoke an ounce of emotion for his “Allah ka banda Atif” speeches. Bipasha as usual sports one expression throughout the film but she does look quite stunning as the ferocious young youth leader. Sanjay Dutt does a lot of “hero-giri” which kind of takes out the entire seriousness from the film leaving it to be yet another action movie. Amazing actors like Mahesh Manjrekar, Shernaz Patel and Yashpal Sharma are sidelined with small roles. Anupam Kher though is at his usual best as a calm-faced yet cunning separatist leader.
Kashmir is known as paradise on earth (or was known as once upon a time) and indeed the locations are very picturesque but despite a very well made attempt the cinematography of Lamhaa is not extremely impressive in comparison to other recent films based on Kashmir like Sikandar or Tahaan. But Lamhaa has been shot in real locations in Kashmir which in itself is an impressive feat.
Overall I’d say Lamhaa is just about an average film… I’d rather sit this one out of the theatres and wait for the DVD or for it to play on TV.