Much too soon after Dhaakad, another espionage film, Code Name: Tiranga, sets a female RAW agent against the shadowy underworld of terrorists, gangsters and spies. Unfortunately, Parineeti Chopra is less of a femme fatale type than Kangana Ranaut and this Ribhu Dasgupta film infinitely duller. When there have been so many superior movies of this genre already made, any new film has to try to equal at least the Indian ones (Hollywood resources would be tough to get), if not better them. This one, instead of aiming for an opening that would hook an audience, goes for ponderous faux philosophizing about love, death and war, that is out of place and off-putting.
Durga (Chopra) masquerading as a journalist in Kabul (implausible cover), manages to get an “innocent civilian,” a half-Turkish doctor Mirza (Harrdy Sandhu) to fall in love with her and marry her. All this for her able to gain access to the wedding of Mirza’s friend, which a wanted terrorist Khalid Omar (Sharad Kelkar) is expected to attend. He was involved in the Parliament bombing in 2001– that the Indian intelligence establishment was hunting for him for 20 years and failing does not exactly inspire confidence in RAW.
The operation is botched, Khalid gets away leaving behind dead people as collateral damage and a very shocked doctor watching his wife of a few months sprinting after armed thugs with a gun in her hand. Durga, the “best man for the job” is sent back into the field to track a mole, who happens to be her handler, Ajay Bakshi (Dibyendu Bhattacharya).
The film then goes on a trip around places in the Arab world—from the arid to the snowy, as Durga grimly goes about her business, and all around there is double-crossing, deal-making, kidnapping and murder. The film moves sluggishly and makes little sense; Durga finds the phone of a crucial link, which leads nowhere. She is shot and almost bleeding to death one minute, the next she is running about chasing goons, dressed in a flowing black robe. The heartbroken doctor turns up to show his noble side, but Khalid always seems to stay a few steps ahead.
When Durga reaches Khalid’s hideout, there’s a long point-of-view sequence which looks as if the actress did not have dates to spare for the shooting schedule. And it is always exasperating to see fist and knife fights when a gun would do the work faster. If not coherent plotting, the writer-director of a spy thriller should at least be able to keep the pace fast enough to prevent the audience from noticing the flaws.
Parineeti Chopra gets her fair share of the footage, but seems to equate scowling and squinting with seriousness of purpose. Makes one feel nostalgic for Naam Shabana and forgive Dhaakad.
Also, every brave woman need not be equated with Goddess Durga and every mission need not result in a flag-waving patriotic speech.
(This piece first appeared in rediff.com)