CAST: Siddarth Malhotra, Rashmika Mandanna, Sharib Hashmi, Parmeet Sethi, Mir Sarwar, Rajit Kapur, Kumud Mishra

DIRECTED BY: Shantanu Baggchi

Just like us in America, spending generations upon generations in watching the Muslim Terrorist try to gun down, bomb or kidnap people post the 9/11 tragedy, Indian movie makers find it very simple to create stories of nationalistic pride by bringing to fore their decades of animosity with Pakistan.

Another hero is born and yes he openly dissed Pakistan.

A narrator who says he’s the chief of RAW – the Research and Analysis Wing (India’s version of the CIA) – explains the backstory of the nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan, which followed the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

India won the war, but the tension remained, especially after India successfully conducted a nuclear-bomb test in 1974, prompting Pakistan to secretly begin developing their own atom-bomb technology.

We are then introduced to Tariq (Sidharth Malhotra), a simple man who lives in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He lobbies a tailor for a job in his shop, and falls in love with the tailor’s niece, Nasreen (Rashmika Mandanna), who is blind, but surely sixth-senses how handsome he is. For Tariq, it was love at first sight – you can tell because everything becomes slo-mo and bollywood music starts playing its heart out.

Tariq and Nasreen get married and live a very, very modest life on his salary of a sub-tailor. It’s perfect – perfect cover for an Indian RAW agent.

Tariq’s real name is Amandeep Singh, and he’s really in deep. Nasreen gets pregnant , and his love for her is very, very real, although she doesn’t know he’s a spy who’s been tasked with finding the location of the uranium enrichment plant and reporting it to the Indian government.

For a guy living a double life and keeping such a ginormous secret and bearing the weight of his father’s status as an Indian Benedict Arnold, he’s surprisingly light on his feet and has patriotic dialogues to match.

He’s disarmingly handsome and is so good at playing a simple, illiterate fellow, his sneaky interrogation of a Pakistani general – Amandeep talks his way into the General’s house under the guise of repairing the buttons on his uniform charming his way into him revealing some clues to him. So simple. All you need is good looks to be a spy. James Bond did establish that long ago.

Amandeep takes unusual avenues to acquire intelligence like chatting up gossipy aunties and children playing soccer at school or posing as a plumber as patriotic music plays in the background.

Meanwhile, Pakistan suffers a comically nondramatic military takeover which increases it’s tensions with India, and to top it off, Israel is planning an air raid on what it believes to be the nuclear plant.

So the pressure’s on Amandeep to find evidence that would prevent a war.

Malhotra is hot, charismatic and almost redoes his Shershah to a T, Rashmika Mandana has little to do except be persistently blind and cute.

There is not much chemistry between the two and even their falling in love track is rushed because we had to dwell deeper into the spy activities.

What could have worked for the movie would either be a deeply researched spy thriller or just a romantic theme of “sleeping with the enemy”.

None work because the script comes across as non-serious in its intent to either create a thriller or a romance drama.

There is only this far that Siddharth Malhotra’s good looks can carry the movie.

Having spoken about the charm of the stars, the real shoulders that carry the movie are Kumud Mishra and Sharib Hashmi as the colleagues to the handsome spy.

Another thing that irks the entire narrative is the lack of authenticity in recreating Pakistani culture, language and accent. The urdu is sprinkled with Hindi words – making the entire effort seem misplaced and disingenuous.

The movie ends with jingoism and sacrifice, yet does not give us the feels that we should be feeling for a hero.

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