'Omerta' review: Film survives only by performances

'Omerta' review: Film survives only by performances

Film: Omerta

Stars: 2.5

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Rupinder Nagra.

Director: Hansal Mehta

Rajkummar Rao is in no mood to stop. He is one of the finest actors of our times who has been meticulously building a body of work which in future will be hailed for its versatility.

In his latest, Omerta, by veteran director Hansal Mehta, Rao plays Omar Sheikh, a British terrorist of Pakistani descent who was arrested for the kidnappings of foreign tourists in India in 1994.

The actor's brilliance is seen very early on in the film. Playing a game of chess with an American youngster, who is tricked into the house only to be killed later, Rao is nonchalantly staring at the chess board before he delivers this dialogue with remarkable ease: "You have killed me a lot of times in the game. Now it's time to kill you." The body language is perfect and the acting is 'real' enough to give you the chills.

Rao's films come with expectations because of his ability to lift the story and do justice to the director's vision. Omerta is his fourth film with Mehta and it's natural to yearn for something more. Does the combination deliver? Not really.

A story on a cold-blooded individual requires a certain level of tension to keep the audience hooked. Here, Mehta's soft approach makes the film less compelling. Take, for instance, the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl orchestrated by Shiekh.

Right from the point of Sheikh's meeting with Pearl and till his execution, we don't feel the impending danger owing to the weak direction. Michael Winterbottom's A Mighty Heart dealt with this incident better.

Mehta hasn't troubled himself with researching and extracting greater details on Sheikh. Instead, an easier trope like jingoism is given importance. The film is a retelling of Sheikh's crimes that have already been documented. In Mehta's Shahid and Aligarh, we cared for the characters, but here, important characters like Sheikh's father, who tries to stop his son from turning into a jihadist, suffer from lack of depth.  

Omerta belongs to Rao who, barring a slight trouble with the British accent, is at the peak of his skills. Honest depiction in a biopic is understandable but Mehta didn't have to compromise on his cinematic skills.