‘Aamir’ (2008) is, arguably, one of the most assured debuts by any director in the last several years. Rajkumar Gupta showed tremendous maturity as a writer and a director while choosing to make his debut with a film that dealt with a rather sensitive subject. After ‘Aamir’, he went on to make ‘No One Killed Jessica’, ‘Ghanchakkar’ and ‘Raid’. Though each of these films is vastly different from one another, the one thing that remained constant is his love for thrillers. Sometimes, it resulted in a comic caper like ‘Ghanchakkar’ and at times, the thrill element was interwoven in a serious film based on a real-life incident like ‘No One Killed Jessica’. His new film ‘India’s Most Wanted’, too, is inspired from real-life events. The film depicts the story of a group of intelligence officers nabbing the ‘most wanted’ terrorist on India’s list without firing a single bullet. The film features Arjun Kapoor as the central protagonist whom Gupta had intended to make the film adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Revolution 2020’ several moons back.
A series of blasts, occurring one after the other, shocks India and embarrasses the government and crime-fighting units who fail to identity and capture the culprit behind these terror attacks. Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor) a sharp intelligence officer from Bihar gets an anonymous tip from a man (Jitendra Shastri) in Nepal about the terrorist who might be the one behind the blasts that occurred in India. When Prabhat informs his senior Rajesh Singh (Rajesh Sharma) about it, the latter is a little reluctant to send a small team to capture a dreaded terrorist in foreign territory without significant Government support but eventually, he agrees to it. Prabhat and his team travel to Nepal with meagre resources and limited support with one goal in their mind – capture India’s most wanted terrorist.
We barely get to see the main antagonist throughout the film. In the past, several films have used this trope of hiding the villain’s identity or keeping him away from the screen for the large part of the film and then, bringing him to the fore in a way that it serves as a jolt to the audience pretty nicely. Here, Rajkumar Gupta does not really succeed in doing that effectively. When you see the antagonist in the final moments of the film, you do not really get shivers down your spine. Even the altercation between Prabhat’s team and him is devoid of drama and a sense of thrill. The seemingly brilliant of capturing a dreaded terrorist by a small team of intelligence officers without firing a single bullet has not been exploited to its fullest potential.
Despite the shortcomings, the film is far from being a disappointing fare. The screenplay, written by Gupta, has a certain ebb and flow to it and it does manage to keep you on the edge of your seats with some interesting turns and twists thrown in for good effect. The audience is teased with blurred visuals showing one just a tiny glimpse of the antagonist which keeps one interest to see him and witness his eventual fate alive. The research that has gone into recreating the events and fleshing out the characters is evident.
Arjun Kapoor delivers a satisfactory performance; his Bihari accent is inconsistent throughout the film though. Jitendra Shastri delivers a very good performance as the informer whom you are not sure whether you can trust or not. Rajesh Sharma is good in a brief role. The actors essaying the roles of the intelligence officers have been cast well and deliver sincere performances. Sudev Nair, who plays the antagonist, leaves a mark despite showing up only in a few scenes.
Rajkumar Gupta’s ‘Aamir’ also served as the debut for music composer Amit Trivedi who put together a memorable soundtrack for the film. Since then, he has collaborated with Gupta on every film that he has directed. The songs in this film are forgettable. Amit does a very good job with the background score though. The editing (Bodhaditya Banerjee) could have been better as a few scenes look disjointed and the second half is a little longer than it should have been.
‘India’s Most Wanted’ is neither as thought-provoking as ‘Aamir’, nor is it as deliciously entertaining as the director’s last film ‘Raid’. Having said that, it is a fairly well-made thriller that keeps you interested in the proceedings throughout its duration.