In recent times, two directors have impressed me with their debut products. One is John Matthew Mathan (Sarfarosh) and the other is Farhan Akhtar (Dil Chahta Hai). While the former has not made any more movies since, Farhan disappoints with his second film.
Don't get me wrong. Lakshya is not a bad movie; but it is not a 'differently different' movie either.
Frankly, apart from cinematography, everything else is 'just another movie'. If it is about the dilemma of a young man trying to figure out what he needs to do, it is not properly tackled; if it is about war, God save India if this is how authentically the Indian Army works (I will come to this point later).
Karan Shergill (Hrithik Roshan) is our man in dilemma. He does not know what he wants to do next. Fair enough. He can be dumb enough to repeat someone verbatim about goals in life and intelligent enough to humour his friends with intelligent jokes. Now that is a confused script.
He joins the Indian Military Academy. Yes, the director knows which exams one needs to pass to join the IMA. But our hero runs away from the IMA. Cool, that was an easy break! This running away apparently does not please his girlfriend (Preity Zinta) very much, and she gives him a moral lesson or two.
Our hero goes back to IMA. When he passes out, he calls himself Lieutenant Karan. Hold on. I thought you graduate to second Lieutenant, not Lieutenant, from the IMA, unless my information is outdated. But what the heck. Every movie has some logical mistakes, so I will let this one go.
Soon, our hero finds himself amidst a 'mini-war' in the Kargil-Drass sector. The rest of the movie is all about how he, along with his superiors and team mates, wins a crucial peak back. The whole planning shown in the movie is a shame. Apparently, the top brass of the Indian army is unaware of the plans of the Punjab regiment (our hero's regiment) on how to conquer the peak.
The shelling is done with one Bofors gun in the background. Our rock-climbing heroes can actually climb 800 feet and you don't call commandos for this kind of action? Is that cool or what.
The Pakistani counterparts are aware that the first shelling by the Indians is just to take a memory map of the bunkers of the Pakistani soldiers, but they do nothing to reinforce the existing troups? The television show by Preity Zinta comes across as a third-rate copy of current television shows.
Amitabh Bachchan's introductory speech about an operation to his juniors looks like a classroom lesson to people who know nothing about the military than to someone who has been trained in combat activities. I believe it is a crucial aspect of storytelling and should have been done realistically.
But the biggest reason for my disappointment is that the movie is full of cliches. This is one thing I least expected from Farhan Akhtar. Asking for someone's else good fortune and the subsequent death of that person; songs that really look out of place and increase the duration of the movie; the 'inappropriate' internal discussion within the team -- whether or not they should drop a certain plan at the end of the movie; Hrithik announcing his plans to go ahead and complete the mission alone and his proceeding without the appropriate mountaineering gear to climb 800 feet -- these are glaring mistakes.
Still, Lakshya is watchable. Why? Well, because Hrithik has acted well. The cinematography is brilliant. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful and the rock climbing sequence is very well shot. The ensemble cast is very cliched, but the actors have done a good job.
If you want to watch a genuine war movie, watch Haqeeqat instead. I don't think any Indian war movie has ever done justice to the Indian armed forces. Haqeeqat comes the closest.
But if you want 'timepass' for some three-odd hours, and want to watch some good acting by Hrithik, go for Lakshya. Me? Give me a Dev instead. Any day.