Vidhu Vinod Chopra's MISSION KASHMIR
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
I was not disappointed. This is now one of my favorites. The drama is palpable, the message is moving, the action sequences are terrific, the scenery is beautiful, the acting is terrific, and the photography isspectacular.
A case in point. Near the beginning of the film we watch a young girlat a waterside village that is preparing for a wedding. The day is bright and beautiful. First she greets a group of girl friends, garbed in flowing colorful costumes, who are practicing a song and dance for the wedding in one of the first examples of how skillfully the musical numbers are interwoven with the action of this movie. She greets them as we hear the singing and momentarily see them dancing. Then the camera follows her as she runs down a long catwalk to the water’s edge where a young boyis drawing pictures. She chides him for staying away from the festivities, and all the time we hear the singing in the background. She playfully pushes the boy into the water; he emerges and chases her back up the catwalk toward the village, and along the way we catch a glimpse — just a glimpse — of a man who is sitting on a roof. The whole sequence isproduced and edited together in a continuous and joyful fluid movement that prepares us for the rapid turn to violence that follows.
And there is much violence in this movie. Terrorism, Kashmiri independence fighters, brutal police methods, and deadly fiery explosions abound in this film — as well as immensely enjoyable musical numbers. And if you try, you might even be able to see what appears to be the profile of an Osama bin Laden lookalikein one of the dimly lit interior scenes in which the movies vast centerpiece of terrorist plotting is discussed.
The plot? I won’t go into that. It’s melodramatic, it plays off stereotypes, and parts are unbelievable. Suffice to say that family, love, patriotism, honor, mothers, Hindu versus Muslim animosity, music, and action are all interwoven in a very entertaining package. It certainly kept me interested as I tried to understand some of the cultural references with which I am unfamiliar.
The movie is very good at making abrupt switches in tone and mood. One in particular, which I shall not detail, involves a highly unlikely musical number that is abruptly concluded. At first it seems out of place from a Bollywood perspective, but it works.
Don’t expect profundity here. But do see a remarkably dramatic exploration of terrorism and civil war played out against an intertwined series of family and romantic relationships. There’s nothing subtle about Mission Kashmir, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.
Review copyright (c) 2005 by Dennis D. McDonald