Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Basu, Anupam Kher, Kunal Kapoor
Director: Rahul Dholakia
The film begins with Vikram Sabharwal/Gul Jehangir (Dutt), a military intelligence officer, harking back to the Kashmir of 1989, a beautiful valley on the boil. Intelligence officers know terrorist groups are up to no good during the election season (well, when are they?) and Jehangir is roped in to uncover their evil designs. On his pursuit, he comes across separatist leader Haji (Anupam Kher) and several other shady characters who help him for a price.
Aziza (Basu) is an outspoken Kashmiri girl whose character undergoes a transformation in the course of the film as she realises that many of the things she had learnt since childhood were not true. All the characters in the film are fighting for their own concept of azadi. Aatif (Kapoor) is a rebel who wants to get azadi by fighting an election.
The involvement of too many characters makes the plot convoluted and leaves you feeling lost midway, trying to gauge who is with the terrorist, who is with the intelligence officer, and who is neutral (except Dutt’s character, of course).
Everybody in the film talks about Kashmir as jannat (heaven), but the director has made little attempt to showcase the beauty of the region with only a blink-and-you-miss-it montage of the snow-clad mountains. While the film harps on the atrocities the Kashmiri Pandits have been facing, it appears to gloss over the plight of the Kashmiri Muslims.
The film, which aims to dissect the problems of Kashmir, fails to do so and appears to be skewed towards the problems of the pandits. But it does depict the Islamist brainwashing of children and the plight of Kashmir’s women. Kapoor’s election speech, where he says the Kashmiri Muslims have suffered the atrocities of the army while the pandits have suffered at the hands of terrorists, is perhaps the only time you feel both that communities have suffered.
Director Rahul Dholakia, known for taking real-life social conflicts to the big screen, has made a decent attempt to portray Kashmir’s sad story. But Lamhaa is not a patch on his critically acclaimed and National Award-winning Parzania, which was set in the backdrop of the horrendous Gujarat riots of 2002.