That those who can make “arty” or “middle-of-the-road” cinema with fair expertise should not even try their luck at mainstream cinema is proved yet again here with “Khuda Haafiz.”
Faruk Kabir made a critically-acclaimed “Allah Ke Bandey” many years ago. But he should not have explored the more intelligent waters of a pan-Indian appeal mainstream action drama (or any genre in mass movies). No-brainer action dramas like these have their own logic as well as means of circumventing actual logic. In that sense, they have a kind of “brain” that is lacking here!
The script is clearly a mélange of logic and confusion. The first hour goes through a series of challenges for the hero Sameer (Vidyut Jammwal) who comes to a country named Noman where his wife Nargos (Shivaleekha Oberoi) has got a job—and now disappeared. Without any lead whatsoever, he cleverly finds the unknown and seemingly untraceable person from whose phone she had made a first and last desperate call to him back home (Shades of “Baaghi 3” where a sweetheart was not there, but a brother)..
Sameer has a lucky break as well—he finds a local cabbie Usman (Annu Kapoor) who helps him in a big way as he understands Hindi. They finally narrow down their search to a famous brothel where he locates his wife, who is drugged and with a ‘client’. Sameer tries to escape with her, but just manages to escape with his life—alone.
The film opens with him in custody in Noman and the Indian ambassador I.K. Mishra (Ikhlaque Khan) wanting to help him as he narrates this flashback. Soon, Nomanian agents (Shiv Panditt and Aahana Kumra) are put in charge of his case. And what happens next?
The script’s first absurdity is the way the local cop tells him that the police raided the brothel he mentioned and found it to be a girls’ school! A famous brothel known to cabbies—a girls’ school!
In all this while, Sameer is never shown to be in touch with either his parents or with Nargis’ mother and father, though the flashback begins with the parents’ friendship! An overseas job agent in his hometown who is a part of the flesh trade (recall “Bajrangi Bhaijaan?”) must be logically trading in innocent girls for a long while, but he disappears now when Sameer’s parents (NOT in-laws!!) accost him with the cops, who do not even detain him on suspicion!
Usman’s cab is majorly damaged but soon reappears untouched. There are more silly things—let us not dwell upon them. The climax, for example, where the renegade cop gets what is due, is actually unintentionally funny in the way it is done.
Kabir’s attempt at treading Abbas-Mustan terrain goes for a toss when he attempts a thriller without a solid script. The second half of the 2.12 film slides down irrevocably. The songs are an additional ear-sore, though Amar Mohile scores better in the BGM than his normal overdone clichéd works.
Uzbekistan poses as Noman and the landscapes are suitably barren. The feel of a Gulf country is brought out very well. Surprisingly, Vidyut Jammwal, playing a normal middle-class man rather than a cop, agent or rogue, acquits himself very well in the emotional scenes. Shivaleekha is doll-like, fetching, does a fair job in a role that has no meat or great length. Kumra’s fake Indian accent is ridiculous. Shiv Pandit, Annu Kapoor, Nawab Shah and Ikhlaque Khan are okay.
The film could have been more than just that. Even at 2.12, it also seems stretched needlessly in many places.
Produced by: Abhishek Pathak & Kumar Mangat Pathak
Written and directed by: Faruk Kabir
Starring: Vidyut Jammwal, Shivaleeka Oberoi, Shiv Panditt, Aaahan Kumra, Annu Kapoor, Ikhlaque Khan, Nawab Shah & others