India’s Most Wanted movie cast: Arjun Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma, Aasif Khan, Prashanth Alexander
India’s Most Wanted movie director: Raj Kumar Gupta
India’s Most Wanted movie rating: Two stars
Based on the true story of the painstaking search-and-capture of a dreaded terrorist, India’s Most Wanted has what it takes for a solid spy thriller : a ‘fidayeen’ bomber bent upon destroying India, the coming together of a team under a strong leader, the bureaucratic reluctance to go out on a limb for brave soldiers even if it means getting rid of a dreaded enemy, and the senior official in between these two forces who plays go-between.
The film also has the relatively novel backdrop of Nepal, where the terrorist is meant to be hiding out. New scenery usually means instant freshness. But the overall result is more a placid seen-it-before run-around than the edge-of-the-seat nail biter that it promises to be. Scenes and dialogues being repeated in a film like this should be a strict no-no.
Prabhat (Kapoor) is a do-or-die member of the anti-terrorist squad: when it comes to national security, a muscular narrative hugely popular these days, he will stop at nothing, whether it is urging his rag-tag team to offer personal and financial sacrifices as true ‘desh-bhakts’, or going against orders.
An initial attempt made at humanising these operatives, usually not even acknowledged by the very same people who send them out to dangerous situations, is nice: they have homes and families, mothers and wives, though you do wish that these ‘bhabhijis’ wouldn’t be presented as such stereotypes, even if they come on for just a scene or two in this almost exclusively masculine preserve. Men who bravely go after ‘India’s most wanted’ are petrified of their women, or the prospect of one, see?
The pace is lifted by the incessant background music: often, there’s more excitement in the music than in the action, which keeps stuttering. The director’s love for slo-mos and close-ups shows up again, and slows things down. Why not keep it all chop-chop?
And though Kapoor comes up with another earnest performance, you wish he had more than one note to play with. If he were just one of the guys, you wouldn’t mind so much, but because he is the hero, the spotlight is on him. Good thing there’s no romantic thread created just for him, though.
Bollywood needs to figure this one out: how do you create a true level-playing ensemble when the movie is being fronted by a hero?