Torbaaz Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | Action, Drama, Sports | 2h 13min
Girish Malik's film about cricket and refugees in war-torn Afghanistan works as a battle cry for peace. The movie has noble intentions, and a riveting Sanjay Dutt. However, it has issues with regards to messaging consistency, as well as lacks strong emotions.
Dec 12, 2020 By Sreejith Mullappilly

In Girish Malik's Torbaaz, Sanjay Dutt plays a former Indian Army doctor who tries to teach Afghanistan kids the importance of love and brotherhood through the game of cricket. The film is set in the war-torn Afghanistan of the late 2000s. This is a real period of international conflict in the nation's history that lasted almost the whole decade.

Back then, the Taliban used Afghanistan children as suicide bombers. Many lost their loved ones in the bombings around the nation. Dutt's Naseer is one of those immigrants who lost his wife and child. The film begins with Naseer returning to Afghanistan to fulfill his wife's ambition of caring for the refugees there.

He wants to instil a sense of harmony and peace into the kids. Anyhow, he finds the task far from easy as there are factions within the kids, as well as the Taliban that tries to lure them away from him. Through years of violence, the Taliban has taught children to use guns and believe in their violent ideologies as a way of protesting against the government.

Torbaaz is two genres rolled into one. At one hand, it is a sports film about kids learning to overcome their differences with the cricket willow and ball. Dutt wants them to be good human beings, so he promises to let them access cricket coaching and possibly give them an entry into the national cricket team. As part of his plan, he approaches a local cricket academy head to request cricket coaching for his refugee kids. Anyone who has seen sports movies may predict that the outcome of this meeting will be a winner-take-all scenario. The other genre is about the politics and war involving the Taliban.

When watching this Netflix film, you may wonder when Dutt is going to kind of break out of character. For the most part of the film, Dutt and his director Girish Malik resist the temptation to show the macho hero side to the movie star. However, a point comes where Dutt must flex his muscles in a way that kind of goes against what he stands for in this film: peace.

There is so much symbolism in Torbaaz that you may easily overlook. In the terrific opening scene of the film, we see a vulture hunting down a goat amid Afghan kids, and then flying to and sitting on a Taliban person. I wonder what that scene means. Perhaps it is the makers' way of saying that the Taliban people are like vultures that snatch away immature kids.

Torbaaz has an important message, but what the movie lacks is strong emotions. There is a conventional ending to the sports movie, with the political elements woven into the climax in a way that you can appreciate. But Torbaaz also moves at a snail-like pace, thereby testing the audience's patience. Sure, Dutt is riveting in parts. Sure, the intentions of the makers are noble. Some of the scenes with Dutt and the kids are directed well, too. Still, you cannot help but feel that the overall movie is underwhelming.

Sreejith Mullappilly