(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)
Arjun Mishra (Arshad Warsi), the newly posted NIA officer from Patna walks into the Chief Minister’s (Divya Dutta as Ramandeep Braitch) office and finds no chairs to sit in front of her table. It projects the kind of tight office the CM runs and how she treats her subordinates and by extension, her people. It is one of the rare moments in Aparnaa Singh’s Irada that suggests that some thought has gone into the making of this film. Otherwise it’s such a haphazardly put together incoherent film that makes you wonder about issue based films and how they are made in our country. Many mainstream films deal with real world issues – sometimes serious, at times only half serious and most times just as lip service in a plot that is more of a showcase for the stars. We talk about how that’s defeatist but many a times we come out thinking about those issues even if the applause and whistles were reserved for the stars. Irada makes fun of such films and in particular, Singham. Irada is also about an issue, a factory using illegal methods of production and injecting harmful chemicals into the ecosystem that affects potable water sources in the state. But after the film, all I could think of was how badly made the film is while remaining unaffected by the issue it deals with.
Singh’s film concerns itself about the issue so much that there’s only information thrown at you from different quarters – a former army man (Shah) who lost his daughter to cancer, an RTI activist and his journalist partner (Sagarika Ghatge) and Mishra himself, the investigation officer. These are all different strands that are supposed to meet but fail to do so as convincingly as the script would have liked. Shah is let down by the insipid writing, Warsi is let down by an unwritten character. It’s almost like if you cast Warsi in any role, you are compelled to give him enviable wit. Give the poor man a break! It doesn’t work here.
It’s like the makers of Irada have an inherent hate towards films like Singham, the number of times it is brought up. At least those films decide to do one thing and are good at it. Irada can hardly say that about itself. Make a bad film by all means. But at least lose the condescension.