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|April 30, 1999||
The enemy within
Aamir Khan plays ACP Rathod, an IPS officer given the task of busting an ISI racket that involves smuggling arms to various extremist outfits in the country and which arms trickle down into the city. Sonali Bendre plays the romantic lead and Naseeruddin Shah, a ghazal singer Ghulfam Hassan, a mohajir (Muslim Indians who migrated to Pakistan after the Partition), who lives on both sides of the border.
Sarfarosh has a very broad canvas, with the film shifting focus from Bombay to Delhi to the ISI headquarters in Pakistan to Chandrapur (a village on the border of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh), to the Rajasthan border. But writer, director, producer John Mathew Mathan manages to avoid confusing the viewer. The action flows seamlessly across the various locations.
The script also shows how arms supplied by the ISI reach small terrorist groups and the Bombay underworld. So while the Bombay underworld isn't directly linked to the ISI, it makes use of the sophisticated AK-47s supplied by them.
The script has this no-nonsense look to it, clearly and succinctly establishing the protagonist's past in which his brother is killed and father left a paraplegic by terrorists. Thus defining why he could be a crusader. His romance with Sonali is dealt with credibly in a matter of a few minutes, thus keeping the story compact and not losing sight of the bigger picture.
Mukesh Rishi plays Inspector Salim, and for the first time, looks like he has a part that gives him the opportunity to act. He makes the most of it. Salim is used to show the factions within the police force itself.
For Salim is removed from a case because, in an encounter, he couldn't capture a criminal who just happened to be Muslim like him.
He usually plays it safe when it comes to action. After suffering some humiliation as an all-out action hero, he had discovered his niche as the underdog in Rangeela and Ghulam. His image is kept intact in the action sequences here -- he's never the aggressor, never shown at an advantage when battling three people.
The music by Jatin Lalit is a big plus, and is ably supported by some good choreography by Farah Khan, Ahmed Khan and Raju Khan. The camerawork by Vikas Sivaraman is good in parts but lacks technical finesse. Some shots make the sets look fake, and a few shots look staged. The editing could do with some spiffing up though the pace hasn't been affected.
Sarfarosh manages to marry serious cinema with the commercial variety. It may have some moments where you wish the approach would be different, but, all in all, it is an entertaining thriller.
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