This is an intimate story of a character, a dark and inhumane to the world but has a drop of humanity inside him in a horrifying way. In a particular scene, Omar Sheikh (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife are witnessing firecracker show which cuts (sound cut) to the plane crashing the WTC (World Trade Center). Director Hansal Mehta narrates recounting story of the infamous British-born terrorist Omar Sheikh, who was involved in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping-killing, Kandahar hijack, WTC and even 26/11.
The film plays with the darker side of the character, disturbed by the Bosnia killings in 1992- Omar takes up ‘jihad’ to serve justice to his brothers and sisters (in a violent way). His motivation is crystal clear while his doings are appealing but disturbing to a greater extent. In a character story like this, there isn’t any positive happening which one will root for. And Hansal Mehta just puts up a cinematic piece narrating a story without any preaching or message. It is psychological disturbing to witness such a strong negativism, even a scene with the Indian National Anthem is cruel (the Censor Board has now censored).
From Bosnia to Kashmir and from Daniel Pearl to 26/11 Mumbai attacks, every incidence is vividly mounted on the cinematic plate. In a training session, to encourage the aspiring militants- a fellow jumps of a high cliff to infusing true sense of ‘jihad’ in them. A veteran militant exclaims, “greatest possession is your mind” and Hansal Mehta captivates our minds into the darker and damp side of the terrorism. This film serves as a companion piece to Hansal’s own film “Shahid” (2013). The protagonists in both the film went through rigorous training, but one went towards the path of humanity (Shahid Azim, who eventually was killed) and one went monstrous way (Omar Sheikh is alive and functions from the prison): freaking irony.
For me, the film was quite disturbing (though the gore scenes featuring actual images of the killed made me uncomfortable) because of Omar’s motives and the way he does things. The film serves as a mirror and doesn’t sympathize with Omar, he is shown in a bad light which he is. With an engaging Screenplay and brilliant Direction, “Omerta” is a horrifying experience of humanistic approach. Captivating Cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan takes us through different landscapes of London, Lahore and New Delhi in a complementing way; shot tightly, handheld and intimately. Background Score by Ishan Chhabra serves as a dark companion which thrusts the Screenplay.
Rajkummar Rao is exceptionally riveting and nails every bit of it, watch out for the butchering scene of a prominent person- bizarre. What a performer!! Its like Omar Sheikh resides inside him or what?! Freaked me. Thankfully, Rajkummar came for the screening and I had a sigh of relief to watch him functioning normally. (Closing Film at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival)
An ensemble of the history mounted into the form of Cinema hits hard and please remember, its not for light-heart people, viewers may find it disturbing.
“Omerta” is a code of honor that places importance on silence, non-cooperation with authorities and non-interference in the illegal actions of others.
Release: 04 May, 2018
Director: Hansal Mehta
Originally published on 18 October, 2017 during 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. Copyright ©2017 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.