Two overdone themes have been knit together.
An Indian agent, on the trail of a vile terrorist, has to also unmask a mole in her office who’s aiding the killer to stay one step ahead of the law. Mark it as ‘seen that, done that’.
When the agent is called Durga Singh (Parineeti Chopra), she treads the old Raazi route of using a gullible, innocent husband to camouflage her spy games. Ho hum.
In her introductory scene, a much-bruised and exhausted Durga says she’s walking around with a plethora of wounds, some inflicted by love, others by war.
It sums up writer-director Ribhu Dasgupta’s film.
Durga has been chasing Khaled Omar (Sharad Kelkar) ever since he attacked the Indian Parliament 20 years ago. Omar has a natural ally in the ISI. Wow, really?
Hindi cinema loves the Hindu-Muslim harmony plot and it’s rich with pickings when the backdrop is Turkey and Syria. Ribhu thus stirs romance and marriage into Durga’s story when she meets and weds Dr Mirza Ali (Harrdy Sandhu) with a taveez sealing their love and a short lecture by the good doctor on what the name Durga stands for. Secularism in a sea of terrorism is so easy on screen.
The setting is just right for a Punjabi number ‘Kee kariye’ and for a Sufi ‘Damadam mast kalandar’ as Durga and Mirza draw closer with the smitten husband declaring that he’s already made bookings for their 25th wedding anniversary.
The mush and gush give way to rush-rush as Bakshi Sir (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) and several other Indian agents join Durga to trap Omar.
Ribhu has a soft corner for good husbands as Omar too adores his wife and the director pitches Durga and the terrorist in a same-to-same game. One loses a spouse, the other must too.
There’s also some obvious setting up and setting off – when Durga teaches Mirza morse code, you know it’s going to come into play at some stage. It does, clumsily and childishly. There have been such a spate of web series and films on Indian agents chasing a hardened terrorist that Ribhu doesn’t have a new story to tell. Maybe there are some fairly okay moments like impersonating the Urdu teacher. But there are no ‘how’s the josh’ highs and ultimately it’s the female spy from Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi stumbling into Avrodh, The Family Man or Special Ops. Until it implodes.
Watch the trailer of Code Name: Tiranga