Arshad Warsi in “Irada.”

The idea is laudable: in a city in Punjab, a pharmaceutical concern owned by Paddy (Sharad Kelkar) is spreading poisonous contamination through its toxic wastes that are sent underground. Paddy is of course in liaison with the chief minister (Divya Dutta), a woman for whom even her mother feels repulsion.

An ex-army man, Paramjeet Walia (Naseeruddin Shah) loses his only daughter Riya (Rumana Molla) to cancer and realizes the cause. Shattered, he causes a huge blast in Paddy’s plant and the enraged tycoon demands that the CM ensure he get a Rs. 600 crore insurance, or she will not be able to contest the next election — he is funding her, see?

Separately, a journalist, Maya (Sagarika Ghatge) investigates Paddy and company, too — her boyfriend has been killed as he was on the verge of exposing the scams. Officer Arjun Mishra (Arhsad Warsi) is called to investigate the case, but the CM warns him that his results will have to be made to order…or else.

After a while, Arjun gets serious and decides to expose the racket himself, especially when his subordinate as well as son (staying far off and heard as a voice on the phone) expects him to be a “Singham.”

The worst part of what is touted as India’s first eco-thriller is that the director-writer has no clue how to handle such a complex subject and multi-channeled thriller. The result is jerky, amateurish and supremely boring. Even before the interval point, the audience gets either restive or completely apathetic to the protagonists. Thrillers dealing with ecology and human indifference to it are tough subjects to write and make — as John Matthew Matthan had found out with “Shikhar” in 2005.

The end has a fair double twist, and the way the CM is exposed, leading to a chain reaction is very quick and thus interesting. There are moments — very rare — when we get the feel of a taut detective thriller, but that accounts for less than five minutes in about 110 minutes of run time. One such example is the sequence where Parabjeet knows that Arjun has searched his home in his absence and proves it to him. There is nothing said directly by either party.

The songs are passable, but look forced into the movie. So are the flashbacks, whether they are of Maya or of Parabjeet involving Riya. The action is negligible and the editing languid. The technical values are just alright, the background score included.

Performances are fairly sincere, with Divya Dutta stealing the show as the politician. Naseeruddin Shah is alright, and Arshad Warsi impresses more in the serious parts. Sagarika is good, but tends to get a little out of gear in some demanding scenes. Sharad Kelkar as Paddy, those who play his henchmen and Rumana Molla as Riya, are all competent.

Sadly, the film could have been a true humdinger of a thriller. But writers and directors need to know that ideas can be translated onto the screen only by talents capable of executing and enhancing them into a memorable and gripping cinematic experience. And that is sadly what this film is not.

Rating: ** (Just About)

Irada Entertainment presents "Irada"

Produced by: Falguni Patel & Prince Soni

Written and directed by: Aparnaa Singh

Music: Neeraj Sridhar

Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Sagarika Ghatge, Divya Dutta, Sharad Kelkar, Rumana Molla, Prashantt Guptha & others

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