India’s Most Wanted
Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma, Gaurav Mishra
India’s Most Wanted opens with a scene of the deadly blasts that took place in Pune’s famous German Bakery followed by a series of blasts that ripped across the country—in Hyderabad, in Jaipur and so on. The terror plot-frame set firmly in place; the film is quick to cut to the chase with Prabhat Kapoor (Arjun Kapoor), an intelligence officer on the trail of ‘India’s Osama’ who thinks nothing of spilling the blood of innocents. Kapoor finds a tentative lead about the culprit hiding in Nepal and voila; he sets off with a ragtag army to save the nation.
Unfortunately, Director Raj Kumar Gupta in keeping the story firmly tethered to reality does not allow it to soar. As a result, a thoroughly intriguing story ends up being fairly linear with hardly any surprises or reveals. Unlike Raid, Gupta’s film last year, which was about a grueling tax raid that resulted in many surprises before a triumphant end, India’s Most Wanted is underwhelming despite a premise that is vastly intriguing. A cursory treatment of local or procedural minutiae with scant attention to details ends up blunting the edge off a sinister plot, considerably.
For instance, a local woman ISI operative in Nepal who runs an entire network features at a critical point in the film but it remains largely insignificant to the main story. Another missed plotting opportunity is the untapped story of the local police of Nepal getting involved in the chase. There was room for heightening the dramatic tension, but the writers don’t explore those possibilities enough making the chase rather tedious at times. The terror mastermind deigned to be a much-feared terror operative ends up being anything but, and the Pakistani intelligence is predictably foolish. Although, this is last one is an oft-used trope in commercial cinema aimed to make the audience clap and cheer gleefully, here it does not spark much excitement.
What works in the film’s favour is the setting-Nepal and Bihar—not featured too often in our films-- and an underrated supporting cast. The drive from Birganj to Kathmandu in great detail or even the majestic Gol Ghar in Patna is a refreshing change from the usual European vistas we are so accustomed to seeing.
Rajesh Sharma (Rajesh Singh), Gaurav Mishra and Devendra Mishra among others. In a particularly telling scene when they grudgingly dip into their savings for the country, the actors’ talent is well showcased.
Arjun Kapoor in the lead role is suitably understated but he doesn’t have too much outside the usual “Hum use le kar jayenge chaahe naukri jaye ya jaan” type fare to sink his teeth into. His character remains the same throughout without any layers to add to the mystery.
The movie does have a good story, but unfortunately, its full potential has not been mined. Sans the high-octane drama expected in this genre of films, India’s Most Wanted is unlikely to be on the most wanted on a viewing list in theatres. It is more likely to make it to your stay-at-home-and-watch list.