Reviewed by Brad Crain
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Music: Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Hrithik Roshan,
Jackie Shroff, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni
Year : 2000
Running Time: 2 hrs 40 minutes
As I first began to become aware of the films
being made in Bollywood, I noticed that the film "Mission Kashmir" was
for sale at the Best Buy in Little Rock, AR. I figured that this
must be a pretty good film to find itself manufactured, packaged, and being
sold all the way over here in Central Arkansas. When I signed up
with Netflix, I immediately put this film in my queue so I could check
it out. This being my third Bollywood experience, behind the very
good films "Dil Se" and "Asoka," I was fired up about the chance to see
some new actors and discover a Hindi action film. Although not completely
satisfying, I did find this film to be an enjoyable experience.
The plot finds Inspector Khan (Sanjay Dutt) living
the good life. He's got a beautiful wife (Sonali Kulkarni), a good
son, lives in a beautiful house, and gets paid to periodically kick the
posteriors of some bad Indians. Unfortunately, his success in his
professional life has had some bad side effects. One particularly
bad guy has put out the word that any doctor that treats Inspector Khan,
or his family, will be killed, and as one scene proves, this guy's a man
of his word. Next thing you know, Khan's son falls and hits his head.
Tragically, the boy dies because all of the doctors refuse to help him
until it is already too late.
Seeking revenge, his face covered by a black ski
mask, Khan tracks down the men responsible and viciously kills them all,
including the innocent father, mother, and daughter of a family being held
captive by the bad guys. The only survivor is the young son of the
slaughtered family, Altaaf, who has terrifying dreams of the black-masked
killer of his family. Inspector Khan, who feels extreme guilt over
what he has done, allows his wife to talk him into bringing the boy to
their house rather than allowing him to spend his childhood in an orphanage.
Life is just starting to get good again, when
Altaaf figures out that the killer of his family was actually his new father,
Khan. After first pausing to try to kill Khan, unsuccessfully, Altaaf
takes off not be heard of again for 10 years. When Altaaf finally
shows back up, he's turned into heartthrob Hrithik Roshan, is under the
control of a psycho terrorist (played by Jackie Schroff) who has a plan
to bomb the heck out of Kashmir, and has a new laundry list of goals in
1. Use childhood sweetheart for terror
purposes even though I still love her -- check!
2. Establish well-groomed bearded stubble
look -- check!
3. Use kung fu training to good action
effect -- check!
4. DESTROY INSPECTOR KHAN AT ALL COSTS
I'll let you discover the results of goal number
This movie has a lot of good things going for
it. First, and foremost, I'm a fan of action films, and I was looking
for some good action scenes. This film did not disappoint in the
action sequences. From the "Matrix"-like introduction to Altaaf's
adult persona, to the final attempts to thwart the master terrorist's plot,
the action was presented in a highly stylized manner. And that's
just the way I like it, baby. Wirework kung fu, Slow-motion carnage,
and a hero with a big missile launcher aimed at bad guys make for a pleasant
viewing experience in my book. Secondly, the film featured some good
performances. This is the first time I've seen Sanjay Dutt in a film.
His performance as Inspector Khan was commanding, and I found myself really
pulling for his character. Of course, it is kind of hard not to be
sympathetic for the guy with all the stuff that he has to go through.
This was also the first time I had seen Hrithik
Roshan in a film. I was quite interested in seeing this guy as I
have read that he is challenging Shahrukh Khan as the biggest star in Indian
cinema. He was actually pretty good, especially in the action scenes.
Granted, I have only seen both of these actors a couple of times, it seems
to me that Shahrukh Khan commands the screen more strongly than Roshan.
Whereas Roshan has the matinee idol looks and is quite good, Shahrukh seems
to have more character and is great (at least in the few films I have seen).
But then again, Roshan hasn't been at this as long either. I'll continue
to form my opinion on these rival stars as my knowledge and experience
with Bollywood cinema grows.
The other major performance is from Preity Zinta,
who plays the girl that Altaaf loved as a child and still loves as a man.
I had seen her before in "Dil Se." I really like the way she
gives off a naturalistic, best friend, girl-next-door kind of vibe, albeit
a beautiful girl next door. It's easy to see why Altaaf has always
loved her. Finally, as with the other Bollywood films I've seen,
this movie is just beautiful to look at. I think the greatest cinematography
of landscapes in this world is being done in India.
I do have a couple of complaints with this film.
First, the movie was just too long. The story could have been made
into a very exciting, ninety-minute film. As it is, the movie seemed
to drag in places, with the insertion of sequences that did not add anything
to the proceedings. There were some times I thought to myself, "OK,
I get it. He really loves her. Now let's move on with it."
Secondly, this was the first Bollywood film where I felt some of the songs
were just not appropriate for what was happening on the screen. Admittedly,
"Dil Se" and "Asoka" were quite serious films that managed to work in the
song and dance numbers, but these films seemed to insert them in the right
places. For example, "Dil Se" worked its peppy dance routines into
the blossoming love and impending marriage scenes, and stopped them when
the story got really serious over the last 30-45 minutes of the film.
In this film, there is one peppy little dance number that leads right up
to tragedy. The scene was effective for the surprise element, but
when I felt the film should have been building up the action suspense,
it threw this little routine in and I didn't really care for it.
Those are the only real complaints I had.
Overall, I did enjoy this film. The movie
is filled with the best action sequences I've yet to see in a Bollywood
film, as well as good performances from a talented cast. Although
it overstayed it's welcome in certain areas, I still recommend this film
and give it a 7 out of 10.
(Note: This film is being distributed by Sony/Columbia
and so can possibly be found in your local video store.)