Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Rahul Dev, Nargis Fakhri
Director: Girish Malik
It’s an exaggeration to call Torbaaz a movie. If we take the metaphor of cricket, the central idea of this protagonist of Sanjay Dutt, it feels as if you are watching the network session of team B, the hopefuls who will never reach the XI of game and they know it. Instead of putting their best into practice, they’re shuffling, throwing some widths because, heck, what is there to lose? Some of them, perhaps the writers, want to get back on the bench and see what is going viral online. Having found a great idea, they think they have done their day job and deserve a break, and if asked to do more they intend to improvise.
See trailer of Torbaaz
The result is great thinking that is shattered beyond recognition with dialogue as stale as yesterday’s naan, action that is everywhere, and actors sleepwalking through their roles. Aside from a few good moments, when cool kids decided to be kids, the film is hard to invest in despite its poignant and pertinent theme: a global conflict and its effect on kids.
Directed by Girish Malik, Torbaaz takes us deep into war-torn Afghanistan (a Kyrgyzstan in disguise), with innocence at stake as tough-faced men who are useless to kidnap children to train them as suicide bombers. Former army doctor Nasser Khan (Sanjay Dutt) arrives in Kabul to help his friend Ayesha (Nargis Fakhri), who runs a children’s NGO there. He has lost his wife and son in a suicide attack in the country and is reluctant to his new position.
After a change of mind, he decides to play mediator among a group of refugee children. Cricket becomes the binding force as Nasser traverses the dividing lines of the Pashtun-Hazara and Pakistan-Afghanistan conflicts, played among children. Unknown to him, among the children is Baaz, who has been trained as a suicide bomber by a Mujahideen leader Qazar (Rahul Dev). As Nasser’s team heads for an all-important match, so do the militant leader’s nefarious plans amid talks about jannat and jehad.
There are no prizes for guessing how Torbaaz ends but it is the game of cricket that enlivens things, especially when the focus is entirely on the children. They put some momentum into a movie that’s slow from the start. Especially the child actor who plays Chota Sadiq (Rehan Shaikh) has the street smarts to carry out the role.
Sanjay Dutt appears in another World Tired role this year. The best we can say about your vehicle is that it is not the hit-and-run that the Sadak 2 was, but that is not a compliment. For an actor who retains his charisma and screen presence, Sanjay really needs to choose his films with more thought.
Sport as a unifier in a country ravaged by war is a great story that deserves an inspired narrative, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable sector: children. The slides at the end of the film tell us that many members of the Afghan cricket team have defied these impossible odds to shine at 22 yards. It only saddens me more about the great opportunity that has been lost in Torbaaz.