Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Shivaleeka Oberoi and Annu Kapoor
Directors: Faruk Kabir
Producer: Kumar Mangat Pathak and Abhishek Pathak
It’s a hark back to the Meena Kumari era. Where an educated working woman says wide-eyed, “Women have to be fast because they have to go to work, look after the house, cook, clean the utensils….” And the hero watches fascinated because she’s so untouched, she doesn’t know the meaning of a ‘fast woman’. It’s a time machine ride to times when ignorance was passed off as innocence.
Writer-director Faruk Kabir’s heroine Nargis is thus the helpless, hapless woman in distress who must be rescued by her husband Sameer in a shady, scary land called Noman.
That about sums up Khuda Haafiz which makes you wonder if OTT has become the dumping ground for films that won’t run in the theatres.
Vidyut Jammwal’s audience looks forward to his bone-crunching action. But by placing him in the emotional world of a man in search of his missing wife, a genre the actor is ill-at-ease with, Faruk Kabir lets down the action hero’s followers. Except for two or three not-so-exciting fight scenes including one in a kitchen, Vdiyut’s forte is not brought to the fore.
The one saving grace is that Kabir doesn’t picturise any of the songs on Sameer and Nargis and lets them all play soulfully in the background.
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But he overuses music and montage shots to tell his story. Straightforward, not-so-subtle lyrics like ‘Aap hamari jaan ban gayi’ with a classical touch to build up the hero falling in love with his fiancée, ‘Mera intezar karna’ when women for sale are being transported in Noman, the Arabic-tuned ‘Khuda haafiz’ when Sameer hunts for his wife, ‘Sang hoon tere aakhri kadam tak’ during a burial scene or a romantic number on the plane when the couple is mooning over each other are substitutes for a screenplay. But, although the music is not refreshingly unique in sound, it is listenable.
The dialogues are excruciating. The mandatory good-hearted Pathan, Usmanbhai taxiwala played by Annu Kapoor, mouths, “It’s my farz, not your karz.” In a brothel, sleazy remarks like, “Ghar ki cheez pardes mein achchi lagti hai” referring to the women the men want. And there’s the classic one that Algerians don’t go back on their word… so they must sell the women they’ve promised the buyer.
An overall foreboding ambience is created about Noman so that a twist or two about who’s a good cop and who’s not, doesn’t make an impact. Also, for a hero who’s been hit by the global recession, Sameer is incomprehensibly flush with funds in his search in Noman. Unless a hastily-written ‘compensation from the Noman government’ has financed it all.
Faruk Kabir does make two valiant attempts to be progressive. Aahana Kumra, always competent, is cast as Temena the female cop in Noman. And the Nargis and Sameer household in Lucknow is shown as an amicable Hindu-Muslim family.
Sometimes, performances make up for other lapses. But Shiv Pandit as police officer Faiz Abu Malik and Aahana as Temena are made to mix guttural Arabic sounds with their Hindi which end up as unintended caricatures. And Shivaleekha Oberoi as Nargis only has to be look wide-eyed most of the time.
With a budget that can shoot deserts and Bedouins, choppers and chases, wish Kabir had also chased a great story and script.