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The Tashkent Files trailer: Suspicion, intrigue, conspiracy fuel a drama that suits the political atmosphere

Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, The Tashkent Files seeks to dive into the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of India's second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Shriram Iyengar

The English novelist CS Forester once said, "Perhaps that suspicion of fraud enhances the flavour." The quote could be attributed to many things, but it is that flavour that makes The Tashkent Files seem intriguing as a film. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the film is set to be released on 12 April.

The film takes its title from the sudden death of India's second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, in Tashkent in the erstwhile Soviet Union on 11 January 1966 after signing an agreement to end the Indo-Pak war of 1965.

While officially the cause of death has been cited as a heart attack, there have been several conspiracy theories, ranging from the involvement of the American Central Intelligence Agency to an act sponsored by the Indian government, floating around.

Vivek Agnihotri's film slyly takes the position of a murder pointing fingers at later Indian governments. The trailer begins with the sight of files and pen drives being mailed by an unknown person to Raagini Phule (Shweta Basu Prasad), a journalist in a publication called India Times.

Phule digs into the controversy pursuing threads that run from Shyam Sunder Tripathi (Mithun Chakraborty), an opposition leader, to the scheming PKR Natarajan (Naseeruddin Shah).

The trailer has been edited with style, using jump cuts to build the tension. Pankaj Tripathi, Mandira Bedi, Prakash Belawadi, Rajesh Sharma and Pallavi Joshi form the supporting cast that argues for and against the conspiracy theory. With the exception of Joshi's Aiysha Ali Shroff, the rest of the characters seem to hint at a conspiracy to suppress the truth. This gives away a little too much for a conspiracy film.

The hyperventilating of the characters and the melodrama also take away from the crux of the trailer, which is the debate about the mysterious incidents around Shastri's death.

While Mithun Chakraborty and Pankaj Tripathi deliver their lines with conviction, Vinay Pathak as a fur-clad spook in Russia and Pallavi Joshi as the wheelchair-bound Aiysha Ali Shah seem less convincing.

The trailer lays the blame clearly at the door of the then government of India, led by the Congress, conforming to the election season strategy. However, the high-end theatrics and melodrama take away some of the thrill that could have been achieved by a more subtle unravelling of the conspiracy.

Watch the trailer below and let us know if you are keen to watch this film in the theatres.

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