In one of the scenes, General Mahmud asks Omar Sheikh if he knows why he was chosen? On asking why, he’s been told that it was because he was an educated and an intelligent man. An illiterate Jihadi can neither inspire fear and nor command respect. The calmness while delivering that dialogue determines the rationality behind their actions and how they thought what they were doing was for a good cause, and to protect their fellow brothers in different parts of the world.
Writer – director Hansal Mehta returns for the third time with Rajkummar Rao, with Omerta. He chooses a semi documentary style of filmmaking going throughout the 96-minute thriller but besides that, there is enough chaos shown calmly that makes this feature uncharacteristically real and riveting. A certain coldness that’s hard to believe emotionally but enough to keep you curious and carry on with the film.
Based on the life of Omar Sheikh (Rajkummar Rao), an infamous terrorist with a long list of crimes, and a relationship with India that goes far back. Mehta has consciously tried to not reopen older affairs through any kind of political agenda here and has consciously followed the journey of Omar Sheikh. The film starts off with Omar reaching Delhi on a mission, befriending and abducting An American, a Czech and two British tourists. This is the first time we hear about the Bosnian-Serbs and understand his motive behind this abduction. However, after initial ransom demands, it results in a failed mission and Omar is captured.
Mehta uses a non-linear format to help the viewers understand a little back story about Omar, however fails to create much empathy as the first time we see a younger Sheikh, in 1992, he is already on the verge of radicalization. Born and brought up in the UK, Omar seems to be a helpless man, wanting to make a difference for people of his religion, namely the slaughter of the Bosnian Muslims.
A drive to make a difference, despite repeated pleas from his father, he lets go of his degree at LSE and heads to Pakistan to train. We see visuals of him in training camps, and then being recruited by the ISI as he is one of the intelligent one in the lot. Sheikh is shown to be a mastermind, through multiple visuals of him playing chess. There is a sense of chaos within every frame, but also a sense of normalcy for the chaos. These two contradicting feelings aid Mehta while showing an already compelling story.
Another aspect that Mehta consciously dives into is the realism within the story. He breaks down the reality of how terror organisations actually operate versus how they are shown in other Indian films. The entire look of the film also adds onto the realistic feature as it doesn’t strive to look cinematic, but rather concentrates on the narrative.
However, Rajkummar Rao steals the show. He gets into the character with utmost precision and delivers easily one of the best roles of his career. Omar is easily a sociopath as he creates or even thinks about chaos with such ease and subtly. The demonic sensibility that Rajkummar brings to the character just adds another layer to the film.
All in all, though Hansal Mehta doesn’t tell us more than what we already know about the person, he does a great job in portraying his story through a sincere lens, but still adding enough of his touch and also Rajkummar’s brilliance to make it a great film.
Omerta now on Zee 5.