THE TASHKENT FILES
Director: Vivek Agnihotri
Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakraborty, Shweta Basu Prasad, Mandira Bedi, Pallavi Joshi, Rajesh Sharma, Vinay Pathak, Pankaj Tripathi
Written by: Vivek Agnihotri
THE TASHKENT FILES is an investigative thriller by Vivek Agnihotri based on India’s former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death. It is the story of a group of people trying to understand whether there was any foul play in the sudden death of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death. Raagini Phule (Shweta Basu Prasad) is a rookie political journalist in Delhi working for a newspaper called India Times. She has been given an ultimatum by her editor (Asif Basra) that she has to submit a scoop in a few days or she’ll be transferred to arts and culture. One day, she receives an anonymous call (voiced by Vivek Agnihotri) and asks her to write about the mysterious death of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. He had died on January 11, 1966 soon after the Tashkent Agreement was signed following the end of India-Pakistan war. The article gets published, it goes viral and causes waves all across the nation. Shyam Sunder Tripathi (Mithun Chakraborty), leader of the opposition uses this article against the ruling party. After realizing that the matter has become too big, PKR Natrajan (Naseeruddin Shah), the minister of home affairs, forms a committee, and its members are to decide if there is indeed any foul play in Shastri’s demise. Sunder Tripathi is made the head of the committee. Other members include Raagini, author and historian Aisha Ali Shah (Pallavi Joshi), social activist Indira Joseph Roy (Mandira Bedi), director of National Archives Omkar Kashyap (Rajesh Sharma), scientist Gangaram Jha (Pankaj Tripathi), ex RAW chief G K Ananthasuresh (Prakash Belawadi), president of the Young Indian Congress Vishwendra Pratap Singh Rana (Prashantt Guptha) and retired Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Abraham (Vishwa Mohan Badola). A few in the committee deny that the death was mysterious and insist that he died of natural causes. Others counter the view that the matter should be investigated. Soon, it comes to light that no one really cares about how he died and everyone has ulterior motives. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
The story and the idea are quite interesting. The research has been done nicely as well. But the screenplay is ineffective. The film seems a little long and it could have been shorter. It starts of slow but gets interesting as the film progresses. The proceedings give a deja vu of 12 ANGRY MEN. The film while interesting, a few things seem unconvincing. There’s too much information for a viewer to take in at once and it can become a little overwhelming.
Technically, the film is decent. Cinematography by Uday Singh Mohite is good. Editing by Sattyajit Gazmer is okay and could have been sharper as the film seems a bit too long. The screenplay is weak and it shows. There is no scope for music in the film. The production design and costume design is good.
Performance wise, the film is good. Shweta Basu Prasad takes the spotlight in the film. She gives her best and does brilliantly. Mithun Chakraborty is good. Pankaj Tripathi is great as ever. Pallavi Joshi is good. Mandira Bedi doesn’t have much to do. Vinay Pathak is decent. Naseeruddin Shah is good. The rest of the cast offer abled support.
Directing by Vivek Agnihotri is okay. A few scenes are handled very well but overallit doesn’t leave an impact.
At the box-office
The film is going to be a dud!