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March 19, 2010

Masand's Verdict: Lahore - a slickly directed film


It is a well-intentioned, engaging watch 2.5/5

Director: Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan
Cast: Nafisa Ali, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Kelly Dorji, Pramod Muthu, Shraddha Nigam and Nirmal Pandey
Using the sport of kickboxing as a new premise to tell an old story, Lahore is a slickly directed first film by Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan that sadly offers too simplistic and idealistic a solution to the India-Pakistan problem.

Part vendetta story, part message movie, Lahore stars newcomer Aanahad as a revenge-seeking younger brother who steps into the ring to vanquish the Pakistani kickboxer who killed his older sibling using foul means.

It's an engaging drama, convincingly performed and thrillingly shot, but let down by a script packed with convenient lapses of logic, and caricatured characterisation.

Careful not to indulge in that Gadar-style blatant Pak-bashing, the film nevertheless makes its point clearly, pitting Indian sportsmanship against Pakistan's win-at-all-costs ethos.

What holds your attention in the end are the gripping kickboxing scenes that are filmed so effectively, you literally find yourself transported to the centre of the action. The performances are appropriately restrained -- particularly Farooque Shaikh as the Hyderabadi-accented coach, and Sushant Singh as the ill-fated professional kickboxer -- but the film fails to leave a lasting impression because it doesn't say anything that you haven't already heard before.

I'm going with two-and-a-half out of five and an average rating for director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan's Lahore. It's well-intentioned, has its heart in the right place, and it's an engaging enough watch. But it never rises above that to become a film that could truly make a difference.

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