After a roaring success of Salman Khan starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, ‘Phantom’ starring Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif is an icing on the cake for filmmaker Kabir Khan who has always ventured into films with sensitive issues!
We have seen ‘Kabul Express’, ‘New York’ and ‘Ek Tha Tiger’. And this time, Kabir picks up the simmering subject of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that have left indelible scars on the hearts of Indians.
Based on Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Mumbai Avengers’, Kabir’s ‘Phantom’ is a blend of fiction, facts and a sizable share of cinematic ingredients.
The film opens with shots related to the actual terror attack. Thus Kabir strikes an emotional chord right from the word go. No Indian would ever be able to erase those unsettling memories.
RAW chief Roy wonders how to give a befitting answer to Pakistan sponsored terrorism on Indian soil. Come (Samit Mishra) Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, a new intelligence officer who pops up with an idea to uproot terrorism and thus stop attacks on India.
Soon, they put their acts together to find the one, who could help them in their mission to do so.
Enter Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a court-marshalled army officer, who lives a life that the society is oblivious of. When approached by the Intelligence officers, he declines their proposal. After a few days of persuasion, Daniyal agrees to join them to regain his lost honour and respect.
He flies to London where Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif) waits to assist him identify a man who is part of a Pakistan-based terror group. Thus, begins Daniyal’s mission to kill David Headley and Harris Saeed!
The subject of the film being extremely sensitive, it must have taken oodles of courage to make a film based on it. Kabir Khan does deserve a wolf-whistle for the same. The book couldn’t have been adapted page-by-page, and hence the story was shortened and further fictionalised to befit the requirements of the silverscreen. Nonetheless, at a few junctures, cinematic liberties do tend to dilute the concept of realism, thus making them look like mere fantasies.
The portions shot in Beirut look visually appealing but the essence gets ruined as we get to see Daniyal and Nawaz escape a little too easily. But Kabir does succeed in keeping you glued to your seats. At various other portions (without divulging deeper into the narrative) Kabir takes too much liberty and makes the mission look easily achievable.
‘Phantom’ is indeed a treat for Saif Ali Khan fans. The actor has always needed quality films to prove time and again that he has more to offer as an actor. After ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘Omkara’, ‘Phantom’ deserves to find a mention in Saif’s best performances. He is subtle and well poised as Daniyal.
Katrina has a long way to go. She is yet to reach a stage as an actor where she can make the audiences cry while enacting an emotional scene. She falls flat during the emotional scenes. The supporting cast- Sabyasachi Chakrabarty and the other actors playing significant Pakistani characters have been brilliant in their parts. It was good to see Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub in the film.
The costume and the set designers have done a brilliant job. You do feel having brushed past a war-ravaged Syria. Music by Pritam is good and pleasant. Thankfully, Kabir refrained from making his characters lip-sync the songs that ran in the background. The ‘Afghan Jalebi’ number is indeed foot-tapping and has been cleverly used in the narrative. The dialogues are apt.
Cinematography, editing, background score:
The film keeps you hooked. The scissors of the editor have been sharp enough to keep the film fast paced. And the cinematography is brilliant. The film has been shot at various international locations and the landscape; the finer nuances have been captured beautifully on-screen. Sound plays a pivotal role in elevating the mood of a scene. This aspect has been taken good care of.
The film is worth a watch primarily because it’s based on a subject, each Indian would be able to identify with. The film is intriguing in parts and makes you wonder what will unfold next.