Omerta Movie Review: It's a Fascinating Fact-File Without Any Insights On Saeed's Life
Watch it for the grotesque, unapologetic portrayal of Omar Saaed by Rao and for certain air of familiarity with ‘fundamentalism’ being defined as the righteous path to building a country.
Image: Twitter/Rajkummar Rao
Cast: Rajkummar Rao,Timothy Ryan Hickernell, Rajesh Tailang
Director: Hansal Mehta
There’s always a certain risk involved when you decide to showcase the life of an infamous person who has been proven guilty of one of the modern world’s most heinous crimes. How do you actually humanize a person who has been declared a monster in the eyes of the law as well as of the public? Happily then, Hansal Mehta’s Omerta stays away from any glorification and sticks to the fact and media representation of a notorious criminal.
Omerta dramatises the life of Pakistani origin real-life terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, known for his involvement in various attacks, including 9/11 and the establishment of terrorism in Pakistan. And if you were wondering, the title is an Italian term for a criminal code of honor that encompasses absolute non-cooperation with legal authorities. The film is a compelling watch that brings to screen a stitched visual file of speculation comprising what is known about the many activities of Saeed, who has been at the forefront of propagating fundamentalist Islamic terror for nearly 25 years now.
The film runs in no chronological manner jumping from one-time frame to another while covering the acts and routes of Saeed, and this absence of continuity gives it a distinct flavor. However, in order to not glorify or humanise Saeed, the film refrains from dwelling on his life and this becomes its drawback. There is little to no insight about the motivations behind a smart UK citizen turning into a terrorist in the name of jihad. Mehta, who is known for bringing out unnerving, vulnerable human emotions hasn’t taken his signature route this time and it does feel disappointing.
One of the strongest points of the film is lead actor Rajkummar Rao who brings to the screen an unnerving character, one who knows exactly what he’s doing and feels a sense of pride after butchering people as a means of avenging deaths of various Muslims all over the world. There are instances in the film where even Rajkummar's eyes convey the ruthlessness of Saeed’s acts. Omerta once again proves why Rajkummar is the finest actor on the block right now.
The makers have tried to pack and exhibit 25 years of Saaed into a short duration of 93 minutes, thus the film feels overstuffed and the lack of insight into Saeed’s brain and life makes the experience feel incomplete.
There is a series of questions hanging by a thread, which could’ve been dealt with or which we at least hoped would be answered, but just like Saeed’s life, the film ends with no definitive result. The real Saeed is still said to be operating from Hyderabad jail in Pakistan.
The film doesn’t preach reality and states right in the beginning that it has been coloured and flavored by the media reports. Omerta is Mehta’s liberated biopic that proves to be a fascinating fact-file watch of a man who directly defined fundamentalist terrorism in our times, but the lack of insights and background draws it back from being a perfect presentation.
Watch it for the grotesque, unapologetic portrayal of Omar Saaed by Rao and for certain air of familiarity with ‘fundamentalism’ being defined as the righteous path to building a country. There couldn’t have been a better time to release this film.
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