Why Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Torbaaz’ Fails in 15 Honest Thoughts
‘Torbaaz’ is streaming on Netflix.
On 11 December, Torbaaz, starring Sanjay Dutt and Nargis Fakhri, quietly dropped on Netflix. Despite having an interesting premise that is inspired by the real-life story of the Afghanistan cricket team, the film isn't worth the 2+ hours it demands. Here's why.
(Major spoilers ahead)
When the Torbaaz trailer dropped, I knew one thing for sure. That cricket + terrorism is a great Hindi cinema recipe. Especially when it's inspired from real life.
Now, I don't know anymore.
Torbaaz begins rather traumatically. There's a suicide bombing and a few bad guys (the Taliban) are determined to take lives—until we see our hero, Sanjay Dutt.
Dutt plays Nasser Khan, a retired army doctor who has returned to Afghanistan after five long years. From the looks of it, he's not happy.
Who welcomes him? Nargis Fakhri. The Netflix trailer very conveniently put her name alongside Dutt's as if she is the female lead. But, she's not.
Not to be mean, but all she does is flaunt an accent. Her role is quite insignificant.
Even though majority of the film is in Hindi (as if all Afghanis speak in Hindi), they've tried to incorporate a bit of Dari and Pashtun wherever they can... so that's good. I think.
My timer is out. It's now 30ish minutes into the film. We still don't know why Sanjay Dutt, aka Nasser, is so mopey and aimlessly walking around like a saccha aashiq on vast empty fields.
Okay now we know—he lost his wife and son to a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. He has returned to check in on his late wife's NGO Tomorrow's Hope, which is run by Nargis Fakhri.
Initially he's not really into the NGO but then suddenly he changes his mind and decides to become a full-time doctor with the organisation and never goes back to India.
Does he not have a life back home?
Nasser then channels *all* his energy into getting the refugee camp kids to 1) take cricket seriously 2) play with other communities that are supposedly their nemeses. Basically, Sanjay Dutt is trying to do what Shah Rukh Khan already did years ago in Chak De! India
Iss (Afgan cricket) team ka ek hi gunda hai...
My personal favourite are the kids in the refugee camp. There's a Pakistani/Taliban gang, then there's an Afghani gang and then there's a Hazara gang. All three hate each other's guts but they're all SO adorable.
As the Resident Saviour Man of the film, Sanjay Dutt's character obviously manages to unite the kids and they agree to give their hundred percent to cricket practice.
My only issue is that the film is painfully slow in the first half. I mean, I won't deny making use of the new playback speed feature on Netflix.
Now here's the thing, in the second half, the film gets really dark, really fast. Suddenly, there are these Big Bad Terrorists who are trying to emotionally manipulate the kids into giving up cricket and fulfiling their 'destiny' by becoming suicide bombers.
The kids are scared so they do get lured back to their old life. Enter, once again, Resident Saviour Man of the film. Nasser is unafraid. He goes to meet the Big Bad Terrorist, gets beaten up quite a bit but somehow gets to the terrorist's heart and strikes a deal.
The deal is that the terrorist will postpone the suicide bombing mission and let the kids play the match.
I am not sure how exactly this is a GOOD deal but okay. Just gonna play along since the Afghanistan cricket team actually does have players who have come from refugee camps.
At this point, I'm enthusiastically rooting for the kids. Even with their bad acting skills, they're quite adorable. Perks of being a kid!
Then there's a neck-to-neck cricket match where the kids have to defeat the official Kabul children's cricket team otherwise...
Otherwise Nasser will pay $4,000 to the other coach. Again, a random detail inserted in the film for no reason.
Torbaaz is full of such random details and plot detours. Despite having all the necessary elements for an engaging and entertaining watch, Torbaaz creates very little impact.
The only thing I thoroughly enjoyed was rooting for the kids as they find joy in cricket.
In the end, the cricket match does happen and that's also where stuff goes down. There are kids running into the field with bombs latched onto their bodies. There are gun firings. There is death. It's all pretty grim and disturbing... but, interesting!
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