Omerta Movie Review: It Is A Chilling Testimony To Immediacy Of Terrorism


Starring  Rajkummar Rao

Directed  by Hansal Mehta

Rating: ****(4 stars)

When  a filmmaker  takes on the responsibility  of telling the story of one of  the most notorious terrorists in  the world,  there is always the  risk of humanizing the mass murderer,  underlining his barbarism with a cultural/religious rationale that may perhaps be intelligible  only to  the  perpetrator  of  the  violence but  nonetheless a rationale  to be considered.

 In Omerta as Hansal Mehta tells  the  horrific intensely malevolent story  of the  violence committed by Omar Sheikh(played with chilling transparency by  Rajkummar Rao) what emerges is a man who believes violence  can set the  world’s awry values right again. Not that Omar hopes to achieve that moral and political equilibrium during his  lifetime.But no harm in trying, is there?

 This tightly-edited  nerve-wracking tale  of  selfrighteous butchery opens with a deviously planned kidnapping  of a group  of foreigners in Delhi and ends with the  beheading of  Daniel Pearl(Timothy Ryan Hickernell) in the dead of the night when the bloodcurdling sound of a  throat being slit by a blunt  knife(some call it halaal) pierces the stillness.

Here, I have to admit,I felt  violated.

Before I  proceed with more revolting descriptions of the barbarism that Mehta’s Omar brings to the screen(or maybe you wouldn’t like to hear about it anymore?) this is as good a  place as any to speak of the sound design. Mandar Kulkrani’s sound recording leaves nothing to chance. The incidentals sound, whether the distant sound of a gunshot or a jihadi falling from a cliff to his paradisical death, the film is a marvel of intricately detailed sound designing.

 Anuj Rakesh Dhawan ’s camera is a restless soul. It fidgets, it meanders, it burns its way into searching for a center to the protagonist’s  conscience . Indeed, Omerta looks like a film(if you want to call it a  film)  that could do with a pause for breath.  It is a restless breathless rushed and breakneck hurl into a nemesis that no man can control.

To the life and goals of man who wants to change the world with his vigorously violent methods, Rajkummar Rao brings a smirking serenity, an imperturbable certainty to every (violent) action manned by a core of “truth” obtainable only to those who believe they are among the  Chosen Ones.

I  specially liked Rao’s conversations in  London with his screen-father (Keval Arora). So calm so unruffled , secreting such  terrible violence. Rajkummar Rao conveys the  unplumbed turbulence of an ocean that’s deceptively calm on  the surface.His performance is magnificent without aiming to be so.

Every bit-part of  a terrorist, cop, tourist  or mullah is played  by people who seem  to have walked in from their real habitat to be part of  a group discussion on their beliefs

Regrettably  Hansal Mehta and  Rao  do not allow us to penetrate  the  protagonist’s consciousness beyond a point. We  only know as much about Omar Shiekh as he and his Creator (and I don’t mean Hansal Mehta) want us to.This, in  a way is  a desirable path to follow for us, the mute spectators.  For violence, as all know, can only be penetrated fully by those who subscribe to  it.

Omerta is  not an easy film to watch. It cuts the protagonist’s movements down to size in  episodic chunks  and then regurgitates the vivid moments  into  scenes  of colour-blinded  documentation. There is  a moment where Omar pretending to be an ordinary tourist in Delhi named ‘Rohit’ is accosted  by an aggressive cop on the road who tells him bluntly that he ‘looks’ like a Muslim.

That  moment  provides us with a blinding flash  of recognition  of  the problem as to why global terrorism has  come to aflashpoint.There are many dialogues and images in this  film that will make you wince and squirm.

Who said life after Osama bin Laden would be easy?Ometra makes  it no easier.

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