Rajkummar Rao Channels Evil in This Dark yet Muddy Biopic ‘Omerta’
Understanding the inner workings of an evil mind can be fascinating. What drives such people to the steadfast pursuit of their immoral and unethical actions? Why are they so drawn to violence? Do they ever feel any remorse? How do they justify the enormity of the terror they unleash on themselves and others?
Hansal Mehta’s Omerta offers a compelling sketch of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British terrorist of Pakistani descent, sans judgment or justification. This tactic helps director Hansal Mehta portray him with a cold, chilling efficiency, but at times making it a rather opaque presentation where we struggle to understand his motivations completely.
The narrative moves back and forth as we trace Omar’s journey from his innocuous life in London to the sudden proclivity for violence and religious fundamentalism that he exhibits. A gifted chess player, an LSE student, Omar leaves his “normal” life and a confused father behind to help his fellow Muslims in the Bosnian conflict.
This takes him to Pakistan, where he is trained as a jihadi. Subsequently, Omar gets involved in various terror activities, including the gruesome murder of journalist Daniel Pearl. Usage of newspaper clippings and actual video footage lends credibility to the documentary-like detailing.
Rajkumar Rao shows astonishing restraint playing Omar, a character with not a single redeeming feature. So impressively measured is Rao that despite a slightly underwritten character, his command never slips. His first mission to India is to kidnap foreign nationals. As he furtively goes about trying to ensnare his potential victims, Anuj Rakesh Dhawan’s frenzied camerawork brings the serpentine narrow lanes of Pahargunj alive with urgency. Ishaan Chhabra’s music efficiently compliments the build-up of tension and intrigue.
Omerta is a difficult film to watch because of its dark unrelenting portrayal of violence, but watch it for Rajkumar Rao’s stunning performance.
3.5 QUINTS out of 5
Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Ashish MacCune
Video Producer: Chandni Sharma
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit send)