Onto the final release of the weekend and I decided to watch and review the new Hindi film IB 71 which is now streaming in a theatre near you. I have been a fan of Vidyut Jammwal simply because here is an actor who has constantly tried to divulge into meaty roles despite being one of the best action stars of our country. There is a sense of purpose and honesty to the choices that he has made, and this has resulted in some compelling stories with Vidyut being far from his action hero avatar.
I was quite excited(as I usually am) for IB 71 right from the time its first look was out. For starters, the film was directed by Sankalp Reddy who had previously made the brilliant ‘The Ghazi Attack’. And it was kind of baffling that Sankalp did not get an opportunity to make a film post that, up until IB 71. The trailer of IB71 did seem to be promising too with another spy thriller from the unexplored chapters of the Indo-Pak ’71 war. I just was skeptical about the stereotypes which might be thrown in the drama which the films from the patriotic genre was often guilty of. So with a lot of hope and a little skepticism, I ventured into IB 71. Does the film manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Based on true events and set during the Indo-Pak ’71 war, IB 71 follows the story of India trying to foil plans of Pakistan, who are seen to team up with China to cut off the North Eastern states from the subcontinent. The story did have the potential to deliver a drama filled with goosebumps given how important and unexplored this chapter was from the recent history. Unfortunately, the screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours is quite uneventful and insipid in writing.
The drama does open by providing some context revolving around the 1971 India-Pak war which was to shortly commence. As a part of the premise, you see an elaborate rescue sequence and in that sequence the writing was clear on the wall. The drama did fall prey to some of the age old stereotypes of the genre by showing the neighbours to be dimwitted yet again. Soon, the conflict in the drama is introduced wherein the Indian authorities have 10 days to foil a full blown attack on the India-East Pakistan border while the two powerful neighbours would join forces. Thus, a plan begins to prevent the attack which seemed to be far fetched on paper to begin with(as per a few characters in the film).
Now, one issue that I did have about this drama was that the writing was not upto the mark at all. Whenever you think of espionage thrillers, a few names that would pop up are Baby or even Tiger Zinda Hai, whereas a rescue ops film like Airlift could also be added to this list. However, what worked in these films was some brilliant world building sequences that did draw the viewers in the narrative. And that was severely lacking here wherein the events tried to be unnecessarily convoluted but if you look closely, were far too simplistic and convenient. Even the characters were painted with monotones which meant they did not have another dimension to them. As a result, there was a lack of an emotional connect to the drama overall wherein I was quite distracted myself.
The drama is watchable but it doesn’t give you any sort of high at any given point of time. The entire hijack sequence was just so laughable and so poorly executed that it was almost agiven that nothing is going to happen to anyone. There was just no tension created in the drama. The second hour should have been filled with tense scenes but because there was no character development of the neighbours, the fear was never generated. In fact, the drama wad just so uneventful that never really got going. It was ridiculous to see how dimwitted people were shown and that resulted in drowning the overall product. The final escape sequence was also far too simplistic and not layered at all, thus summing up the screenplay which was insipid and half-baked.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are just not upto the mark and filled with lines featuring ‘Janaab’ in almost the entire script. It is ridiculous how still these factors are not taken into consideration despite frequent reminders by the viewers(some in the form of trolls). The music featuring the song at the end is good and the BGM atleast tries to raise the drama at certain places even when things are crumbling. The cinematography is decent given that a few sequences are actually shot in real locations. The editing is choppy particularly in action sequences which are filled with jump cuts. Director Sankalp Reddy has a forgettable outing this time around. He isn’t able to rise to the occasion and rescue a supposedly weak screenplay. It is safe to say that the direction misses the mark!
The performances are just about alright but it had more to do with how the characters were cardboard and not written well. Niharica Raizada and Danny Sura aren’t allowed room to blossom in their respective roles. Vishal Jethwa as Qasim is decent but he does go overboard in a few scenes. Anupam Kher is good and delivers a dignified performance. Vidyut Jammwal as Dev is a case of neither here nor there. We don’t see enough action from him and neither does he fully deliver with his performance. And that had more to do with the broad strokes with which his character was written as opposed to his own acting prowess faltering. While it is commendable that Vidyut is choosing interesting subjects, but it is important that he pays attention to the screenplay and his character, both of which shouldn’t be weak.
IB 71 is yet another faltering espionage thriller that fails due to its insipid writing. Available in a theatre near you.