There is one question that is bound to haunt every viewer who sits through the two hours and odd minutes that make up Major Ravi's new film 'Kandahar'. Hasn't the commercialization of patriotic sentiments gone way over the top?
The film that has Major Mahadevan (Mohanlal) embarking on his third mission, post Keerhtichakra and Kurukeshetra, starts off with an Air India flight that takes off from Mumbai being hijacked by a bunch of Afghan terrorists who demand the release of their leader spending his days in an Indian jail. Major Mahadevan is called into action, and along with his sprightly group of commandoes headed by Surya (Ganesh Venkataraman), he gets about his job in no time.
Unfortunately the aforesaid commando operation takes up about thirty minutes post-interval, and what happens during the rest of the film? The entire first half is spent on explaining to us as to how Surya who has had pilot training always dreams of flying a plane. There are not straight ways to get a job these days, he says and hence spends his time getting into street fights to serve justice to the poor. Major Mahadevan who happens to see one of his duels takes him into the army. Off he goes to the Dehradun Training Camp where he is seen frog jumping and doing sit ups and push ups as punishment for disobedience.
It's obvious that for those who have been waiting keenly to see major Mahadevan cracking the whip on the terrorists, this would be a royal disappointment. And where does Amitabh Bachchan come into the picture? As Surya's dad Loknath Sharma, who is an exemplary teacher based in Ooty. He is married to a Malayali (the gorgeous Sumalatha who is unpardonably wasted in an absolutely trivial role), and the conversations between dad and son could drive anyone nuts. Surya speaks in Malayalam, while his dad promptly retorts in Hindi with Malayalam subtitles.
Even the logical loopholes in the script are unbelievable, and the dialogues unmoving. Mahadevan who plans to meet Loknath Sharma, asks Surya who's at the training camp, as to what he would like to hand over to his dad. Believe it or not, a pack of tea comes the reply. And that too a man who lives in Ooty.
Once the plane gets hijacked there are several shots of the event being covered by the media, the most important ones of which are seen on Asianet, with the 15th year logo flashing a 2010 in all glory behind.
The action bit that has been a major highlight in all of Ravi's films takes a back seat in 'Kandahar' where the focus is on a father-son relationship. When the action does take place, there are very few moments that are worth remembering. There are instances aplenty, when you cross your eyes in disbelief at what's happening.
Because, 'Kandahar' is not a reenactment of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijack by the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen that took place in 1999. This is a fictional account of an event that had shaken up the Indian subcontinent. Hence Major Mahadevan sees to it that the commando operation does not end up a diplomatic failure as has been accused by the Indian negotiators in real. He plays the sharp shooter, the brain man and even the pilot who crash lands the plane to safety.
Major Ravi's film on the other hand, is hijacked by an utterly disastrous script that doesn't even let his flight take off. It's a sloppy film that falls par way down our anticipations and that monumentally wastes two of the best actors Indian cinema has ever seen.