OMERTA Review : A Missed Opportunity

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When you are watching a biopic on the dreaded terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, you don’t want to feel sympathetic towards him and his motives at any point of time. Thankfully with Omerta, you don’t. But when you are watching the same biopic on the same mastermind behind innumerable acts of inhuman terror, you also expect yourself to be deeply disturbed by the gruesomeness that this man represents, and the series of heinous crimes that he commits without a blink of an eye. Sadly with Omerta, you don’t feel that either.

Yes the film tries to recreate a lot of cold blooded terror sequences that are attributed to Omar Sheikh, but the big issue with this film is that it doesn’t give any additional insights to the proceedings beyond what you already know and have already been affected by when they happened. You want to know more about the dark psyche of this murderer, you want to dive deeper into his ruthless soul to despise him even further, but director Hansal Mehta decides to stay away from all of that. He adopts a docu style fact file based storytelling approach to simply retell the incidents through a dry cinematic lens, but in the process fails to establish any connect with the viewer and invoke any emotions. His storytelling remains flat and barely skims through the surface, while we are kept wanting from reaching the icy insides of the terrorist’s darkest mind. That Mehta gets real footage of many incidents interleaved within his story only adds more jerks to the storytelling, making everything feel far more staged, and gets you further detached with the proceedings.

And that is kind of sad, because a cinematic approach like this doesn’t just pull down the film, but it constricts the operating zone for Rajkumar Rao as well. Rao does get the icy cold cruelty right in Sheikh’s menacing glance in some shots, but there are a lot of scenes where the power of that chilling stare is not leveraged enough just because they are shot through weird angles. While the difference of accent between a Sheikh and a Basheer is played out well, Rao’s effort with Omar Sheikh’s British accent clearly shows and comes out as inconsistent and dodgy in many places adding to the distraction.

We have seen a wide range of terrific performances from Rao last year from Trapped to Bareilly to Newton, and know how good an actor he is. He could have made Omerta a far more memorable performance than all of them had he got couple of things on his side – a better developed and more refined source material to work with that would have possibilities to dive deeper into the psyche of a dark soul, and some on point ensemble performances to further enhance his act. Sadly he gets neither, and hence comes across as a sole warrior with little to no ammunition to carry a brutal but soulless story forward. There is no question on the effort he puts in, sadly the results do not show.

No wonder then that Omerta remains a significant missed opportunity where neither its brutality, nor Omar Sheikh’s inhuman coldness eventually triggers any reactions of anger or disgust, or leaves us uncomfortably disturbed. Rather it ends up remaining an insipid, unaffecting, bland docu drama that we watch from a distance and feel nothing.

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