Starring: Rajkummar Rao
Director: Hansal Mehta
Rating: 2 stars
I couldn't quite understand the motive of the movie. I went expecting some insights into Ahmed Omar Saed Sheikh's mind, what the circumstances and influences were that made a bright young man in Britain give up his economics degree from London School of Economics and turn into a ruthless terrorist, etc. But, all I got was a clinical documentation of his terrorist activities from the 1994 kidnapping of four foreigners in Delhi to his association with the 9/11 attack in the US to the murder of the Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl. It felt like his Wikipedia page was in motion or like someone was sharing his Facebook memories.
There were a few moments that could be delved into. His conversations with his father for instance, as he sought his approval to go to Bosnia had great potential. Alas it ended up looking like a prom permission. The filmmakers don't often present a convincing argument justifying Omar's fundamentalism, neither present the father's fears or doubts. Even his father's conversation with Maulana was half baked. His father is the only rational voice around Omar but as he defends his son towards the end of the film, he looked completely out of character. Omar is an educated, thinking man, a trait that's often mentioned in the movie, that helped him gain a strong foothold in his radical journey. I wish the film explored what convinced such a reasonable man to turn to terrorism. There are references to his 'brothers and sisters' suffering in Bosnia's civil war in the early nineties but it was hardly explored in the film. A fellow trainee showing his dead parent's picture was far more moving and convincing than Omar's concern for his sisters being raped.
Rajkummar Rao is an efficient actor but he doesn't have much to play with. How many ruthless, cold, steely glares can you portay in 97 minutes and how many mysterious smiles can you deliver to save a unidimensional character? Rajkummar also seems very trained in his portrayal of Omar instead of looking convinced with the man's ideologies. The film also shows a brutal murder of Daniel Pearl where Omar shoots him down, stabs him multiple times and butchers his head off from his body. I have no clue why the filmmaker was convinced about making the film so brutal towards the end?
Alas Omerta, like most biopics, fails to explore the human side of its protagonist, giving insights into his fears, dreams and insecurities. It ends up being a rather dull clinical documentary on him.