Mumbai, 17 Feb 2017 12:24 IST
The Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi-starrer brings to light the dangers of groundwater pollution, but that's about it.
Aparnaa Singh’s Irada aims at highlighting the deadly situation in Punjab with respect to the rising amount of chemical waste from industries. The film does prove to be an eye-opener as it shows how the state has become a cancer zone. But the aim of a feature film is to tell a compelling story, which isn’t achieved here, despite an interesting first half.
Parabjeet Walia (Naseeruddin Shah) is an ex-Indian Army officer hailing from a city in Punjab. He has served the nation during wars and other operations. He has been living alone with his daughter Riya (Rumana Molla) after his wife passed away. Walia dreams of making his daughter a swimming champion. He trains Riya regularly in a lake near their house. During one such swimming session, Riya becomes unconscious.
When Walia rushes her to the hospital, he realises she has cancer. Groundwater pollution due to toxic wastes has made the state a cancer zone. Paddy Sharma’s (Sharad Kelkar) chemical factory is responsible for the deadly pollution. One day, out of the blue, there is an explosion at the factory’s chemical plant. NIA officer Arjun Mishra (Arshad Warsi) is given the responsibility of shutting the case in a week so Paddy Sharma can get insurance compensation.
Thankfully, the writing doesn't bring up the issue of toxic pollution in a textbook manner. It is smartly woven into the narrative with a moving story of a father and his daughter and how the latter gets affected by cancer. The ‘cancer train’ sequence simply shakes you. Later on, the incident of the blast takes you by surprise because, even if you have seen it in the trailer, you don’t expect it to come up so soon.
You can’t ignore that the story is established in a hurried manner in few portions in the first half. But despite that, a good foundation is laid at the interval point to keep you interested.
The real challenge for a crime thriller is the road to the conclusion in the second half. This is where Irada faulters. The viewer is presented with one unconvincing incident after another without proper flow. If this wasn’t enough, the climax appears straight out of the TV serial CID. Anyone who has followed the series would know that this is not a plus point by any means.
What is more questionable is the complete change of approach in the climax. The entire film is told in an unconventional and real manner. So, the change of gear to the cliched and tried-and-tested commercial path is inexplicable.
The subject offers hardly any scope for music. ‘Mahi’ is a soothing romantic track. The title song suits the film well, but it comes right at the end. There is some decent work by cinematographer Ravi Walia. The background score suits the different moods of the film.
Shah is one of the most talented actors to have emerged from India. He shows a glimpse of his class here too. Without crying or wailing, he succeeds in displaying the pain of a father who has lost a young daughter. There is nothing extraordinary in Warsi’s act. But he once again shows that he is reliable. The undercurrent of humour in his mannerisms and dialogues is also noticeable.
Kelkar is effective as the evil and ruthless businessman. Divya Dutta is commendable as the corrupt chief minister. Molla as Shah’s daughter, is brilliant despite her limited screen time. The scene where she gets frustrated and loses her cool deserves mention.
Sagarika Ghatge is pretty average as she struggles with her expressions. Rajesh Sharma, Diwakar Kumar, Prashaant Singh, who plays Bhagat Singh, and the actor who plays the RTI activist come up with decent acts.
Overall, Irada is an eye-opener with noble intentions that fails in the execution later on.
Reviewed by Keyur Seta