Rashtra Kavach—Om had potential to be so much more

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Aditya Roy Kapur in Rashtra Kavach—Om. Photo: Universal Communications. 

When I attended a special screening of this film, there was a humongous crowd waiting outside the G-7 multiplex in Mumbai to see Aditya Roy Kapur. When he entered the lower main auditorium (I was in the upper Balcony), there were deafening cheers, whistles and roars from the public. This continued even after the film began, during the credit titles, Aditya’s first on-screen appearance and his first few punch-lines.

By the time, the film ended, the response had almost died down. Clearly, something was missing.

And that missing constituent, as so many directors, writers and actors have told me, to which I have always subscribed, was the emotional connect and soul. Action, per se, never works in Indian cinema, and probably, has never worked worldwide. There has to be some emotional justification for the shooting, slicing, open combats and bloodletting that we see on screen.

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Rashtra Kavach—Om begins, plot-wise, interestingly. Dev (Jackie Shroff), a scientist, has invented a “Rashtra Kavach” (literally translated as a shell or protection for a nation) that can protect India from even a nuclear attack. Naturally, every country is interested and Dev disappears. Is he a traitor, or has he been kidnapped?

Many years ago, his brother, Jai (Ashutosh Rana), a dedicated RAW officer, and wife Yashvi (Prachee Shah Pandya), have adopted Dev’s son, Rishi, and named him Om, to protect him from being targeted by enemies. This is after the real Om, their only son, has died in a terrorist attack on their home. Rishi is, of course, aware of his identity, trains to be an ace commando, and while his real father is still missing, is sent on a mission to recover the Kavach and also find his father. In the process, he is shot in the head and loses his memory.

As a recovered commando (minus his memory), Om’s identity is now  deliberately hidden from him by Jai and Yashvi and he continues on his mission. The other officer knowing his truth is Murthy (Prakash Raj), who is coordinating the mission along with Jai.

Om’s associates are Kavya (Sanjana Sanghi), Rohit (Vicky Arora) and the now-dead Arsalan (Rohit Chaudhary). Very soon, Om comes to know his own truth by chance, and shortly after, he stands face to face with his real father, Dev. Everyone believes by now that Dev is a traitor, except for his brother Jai. But is Dev really one? Or is someone else the culprit who has framed him?

This interesting basic idea does have shreds of emotions inherently, and a potential for suspense, but that part is dealt with clumsily and, in the final analysis, does not lead to any intensity of sentiment amidst the excess of action. Back in the 1960s to 1980s, filmmakers then would have etched out a clever, gripping actioner from the same material.

Not surprisingly, with clumsy one-liners, like the hero’s promise to his mother that if Dev is a traitor, he will not even get any last rites, the potential that was there even for a mass-appeal potboiler is diluted heavily.

Illogic also reigns , apart from the over-dark camerawork (Vineet Malhotra) and the overdone action (Kecha Khamphakdee & Parvez Shaikh) and helps in further defiling the storyline. Two characters as well as the hero get shot at close quarters in the climax, and while one dies, the other two, including the hero, rise and act as if nothing has happened!

A needless item number (Elnaaz Nourozi in sensuous mode in a Punjabi folk re-creation), extraneous droning pretending to be songs, and distinct repetitious similarities in the action scenes to Baaghi 2 and Baaghi 3 that were directed by (producer here) Ahmed Khan, finally remove any vestige of innovation this film could have had.

Aditya Roy Kapur, sadly, gets mainly trapped in such vehicles where the filmmakers’ drive is missing on essential matters (Action Replayy, Malang). On the acting front, he is in good form, and on the action front, he is in great fettle. Sanjana Sanghi continues to be mediocre after her pathetic debut in Dil Bechara. Prakash Raj does his usual turn, while Ashutosh Rana and Prachee Shah Pandya are very sincere. Jackie Shroff, frankly, is wasted.

If you must watch an overdose of action sans emotion, or are a truly devoted Aditya fan, go ahead and watch it. Otherwise, skip this indifferently crafted and executed movie that could have been so much more as just an entertainer.

Rating: **

Zee Studios & Paper Doll Entertainment present Rashtra Kavach: Om Produced by: Ahmed Khan, Shaira Khan & Zee Studios  Directed by: Kapil Verma Written by: Raj Saluja & Niket Pandey  Music: Amjad-Nadeem Aamir, Enbee, Chirantan Bhatt & Arko Pravo Mukherjee Starring: Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanjana Sanghi, Jackie Shroff, Ashutosh Rana, Prakash Raj, Prachee Shah Pandya, Vicky Arora, Rohit Chaudhari, Elnaaz Nourozi & others

 

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