Over the last one year, there have been sensible movies about terrorism and fundamentalists that have hit the screens with telling impact. The list is impressive and the message sent across makes you think. SHOOT ON SIGHT is another such movie. Directed by Jagmohan Mundhra, the film dwells on the aspect, 'Is it a crime to be a Muslim.' Set in the UK, this film is executed well, but the plot is predictable.
Early this year, I watched THE WAR WITHIN at the Shamiana Film Festival and I must admit that the film left me, as a viewer, asking many questions. I later learnt from one of the actors, that it was meant to be that way; leave the viewers with lots of unanswered questions. THE WAR WITHIN forces the viewer to witness the psychological journey of a suicide bomber in all its intricacies. In a way, SHOOT ON SIGHT has the trappings of THE WAR WITHIN.
Inspired by the suicide bombings in London in 2005, the film focuses on the life of Tariq Ali (Naseeruddin Shah), a Muslim police officer with the Scotland Yard. Born in Lahore and married to a Britisher, Ali has two children, a teenaged daughter and a school-going son. He is given the unenviable task of investigating the shooting of a suspected Muslim terrorist in the London Underground. He is also joined by his nephew from Lahore, who is systematically fed 'fundamental fundas' by a cleric played by Om Puri. Led into believing that waging a war against the world is the only way to attain Allah's blessings, this lad is lured the wrong way, using his uncles generosity and house to devise his plan to set of a bomb in a crowded locality in London.
The tale is like The War Within where Hassan, the suicide bomber, prepares the lethal bomb in his friend's home. His girlfriend Dhurie, his friend's sister, learns of his plan and in her search for him at the crowded station, loses her life as well in the explosion that follows. His friend, though innocent, is hauled up to prison while his family is left to face the stigma of having housed a terrorist. So who was the war against? Against his own friend? This is one of the major questions. Interesting movie.
However, in SHOOT ON SIGHT, Ali walks out a hero, refusing the top most post in the force, after he is forced to shoot his nephew who refuses to see reason, thus saving the lives of hundreds of people. As for the suspected Muslim Terrorist, who was indeed innocent, based on Ali's findings, his family is compensated
Naseeruddin Shah is impressive, so is Greta Sacchi, who plays his wife. In fact, the supporting cast all blend well. The only flaw I feel is the casting of Om Puri as the Cleric who misguides the youth. That role would have been apt for Gulshan Grover, who plays Ali's friend. They should have switched roles.
Thumbs up for Jagmohan Mundra for veering off from his staple diet of easily forgotten movies that dwells more on sleaze. This one definitely is one of his better works.