Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Phantom" a bad film, with faint echoes of Steven Spielberg's "Munich" and closer to the silly Hindi blockbuster, "Gadar Ek Prem Kahani"

Kabir Khan's "Phantom" comes on the heels of his other film, "Bajrangi Bhaijaan". The two movies show the ambivalence in the Indian attitude towards Pakistan."Phantom"is about justice done through the killings of the culprits of the perpetrators of the November 26, 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, which has come to be known fashionably as 26/11 following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States which has come to be known as 9/11, and "Bajrangi Bhaijaan"is about love. Of course, Kabir Khan needed two separate movies to deal with these these themes. But the two have to be understood together. The director has also made another movie based on India-Pakistan thread called √čk Tha Tiger", starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.

There are however big problems with the conceptualisation of "Phantom". The perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack have not yet been brought to justice, excepting Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist who was caught and who was sentenced to death after a trial. The story-writer, Hussain Zaidi, has created the imagined narrative of avenging the attack. It has strong echoes of Israeli revenge of the Palestinian terrorists who killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympics team at Munich in 1972. Steven Spielberg's movie "Munich" was the narration of the successful Israeli revenge operation. Eric Bana, who played the lone avenger, gave a powerful performance. Unfortunately, given the lack of real background, Saif Ali Khan's character remains without flesh, bones, soul and emotion.Katrina Kaif's role as a private security agency consultant is curious and falls back into stereotypical faff.

The killings that are executed lack finesse, and the film is reduced to a crude action thriller of a B grade Hindi film. Kabir Khan makes up for the lack of depth and realism by crispness of dialogue -- Hollywoodish -- and
action scenes taken straight out of Hollywood again with the dusty vehicles, grisly faces and rat-tatting of the guns and the helicopters hovering closely.

Has the Indian action movie come of age? It is not really so. Hollywood makes childish action movies, and copying Hollywood faithfully and convincingly does not 21st century Hindi movies credible.

"Phantom" is as bad as "Gadar Ek Prem Kahani", starring Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel and which was released in 2000.

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