‘Irada’ Review: Good Intentions But Amateur Execution

It is a world far removed from the photoshopped frames of mainstream Bollywood. (Photo Courtesy: Junglee)
It is a world far removed from the photoshopped frames of mainstream Bollywood. (Photo Courtesy: Junglee)

‘Irada’ Review: Good Intentions But Amateur Execution

Run a Google search for “cancer train” and you will be flooded with information about the passenger train, with the eerie name, that goes from Bhatinda to Bikaner.

The train ferries cancer patients, most of them farmers from Punjab, who seek affordable treatment. Scientists and researchers claim that the soil and water levels in parts of the state have become so toxic that the Green Revolution of Punjab has become a cesspool of dangerous chemicals and carcinogenic toxins.

This ecological disaster is the subject of director Aparnaa Singh’s debut film, which chronicles the lives of the unsuspecting citizens who face terrifying health hazards as a result of the nexus between politicians and businessmen in the state.

It is a world far removed from the photoshopped frames of mainstream Bollywood. Aparnaa makes a brave attempt as she tries to approach the tale with chilling efficiency.

The story runs on two parallel tracks. 

There is Naseeruddin Shah – a retired defence personal, and his daughter (Rumana Molla), a duo who seem to have their lives all planned out. A rigorous exercise routine, dreams of being a pilot – everything appears to be in control until fate plays spoilsport and tragedy strikes.

Then there is an RTI activist who is tortured for threatening to expose the dirty games of Paddy Singh's (Sharat Kelker) business empire and its illegal reverse boring plans. Fearing the worst, his journalist girlfriend (Sagarika Ghatge), tries to collect evidence to nail the culprits, but in vain.

Connecting these two parallel stories is Arshad Warsi, the investigating officer who is brought in by Madam Chief Minister (Divya Dutta) to help keep her corrupt business dealings a secret.

‘Irada’ is well intentioned. Unfortunately, however, it suffers from amateurish execution.

The oversimplified plot and the tidy ending take away from the enormity of the situation. 

The few times we found ourselves completely engrossed in the film during the 110-minute saga is thanks to the astonishingly accomplished Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi. Both actors are on top of their game and one can't help but wish they were seen on screen more often and in meatier roles.

‘Irada’ is not quite the ‘Erin Brockovich’ that one would have hoped it would be. By the end, the pleasures of the film dwindle. 

It has some nice touches but it never truly comes together. Still, it deals with an important issue that should reach more people and it definitely merits attention.

I give it 2.5 Quints out of 5.

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