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A mysterious bomb blast in a business tycoon’s factory prompts the state Chief Minister to hire an NIA officer. He meets an ex-army man seeking revenge for his dead daughter and a journalist demanding justice for her slain boyfriend. Nothing is what it seems. The film raises contemporary ecological issue with lot of thrill. So, what happens next is interesting to catch.
A eco thriller film is not often expected from an industry like Bollywood. It is therefore interesting to catch a film with terms like reverse boring, chemical contamination and groundwater pollution, which we do not really from any Bollywood thriller. They call it Irada and the central to Irada is a reality-inspired eco-thriller set in a Punjab town (Bathinda) which is known for its endemic cancer. It is a small film but comes with a big mission. The film bears the imprimatur of a director who is not only acutely aware of the world around her but also conscious of the power of the medium to explore truths that are hiding in plain sight. Aparnaa Singh vividly evokes the small-town ambience of the film’s setting, with the four cooling towers of Bathinda’s thermal power plant towering over a nondescript skyline. They stand in the manner of silent sentinels watching over the town. Just as much, they reminders of the many environmental follies the town has weathered – and withered under.
Inevitably, the screenplay in the film throws in the “cancer train” in order to convey the enormity of the crisis that has this part of Punjab in a vice-like grip. But for all its strength of substance, this competently executed drama could have done with a little more grit in its treatment and some more gusts in its sails. The line separating a simply good film from an indisputably great one is often thin – Irada doesn’t quite make the leap across the chasm. Irada is a gripping enough tale somewhat undermined by its two facile villains – one represents the manipulative big corporations, the other the pliant political class. The two evil figures – a haughty corporate tycoon (Sharad Kelkar) and a corrupt chief minister (Divya Dutta) – play their hands so brazenly that no room is left for any sort of nuanced, believable portraiture. But no matter what Irada lacks, it is frequently pushed above the mundane by a magnificent pair of performances from the Ishqiya/Dedh Ishqiya duo of Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. As always, Naseer is simply mesmerizing when he recites Dushyant Kumar (Aag jalni chahiye) and Nawaz Deobandi (Jalte ghar ko dekhne waalo) to telegraph his revenge-seeking character’s barely disguised incendiary plans.
Irada Review The Last Word
Nor does the film shock the socks off the audience despite trotting out disturbing details about the sheer enormity of the problem that the “wheat bowl” of India faces today. Mercifully, he does not resort to extreme methods a la Singham – a spy camera and a single slap is all he deploys in the climax – but Irada ends on a pat, preachy note, invoking Che Guevara, no less. Be that as it may, Irada is a film that we must all watch. It scores because its intentions are commendable and its message hits home.