A few doubts need to be set to rest before one analyses LAKSHYA...
Director Farhan Akhtar and writer Javed Akhtar have made an effort to recreate the facts. In that respect, there are references to Pakistan, but facts have been depicted without resorting to jingoism. To make India look like a hero, the duo haven't made Pakistan seem like a villain.
Yet, not many Pakistanis would be ecstatic reliving those moments.
The battle lines are drawn at the interval point in LAKSHYA. And the focus in the second half is on war, on winning Kargil, on making India proud. But writer Javed Akhtar has cleverly injected the romantic track in the narrative, so that the film does not emerge as a documentary on Operation Vijay.
Yet, the war sequences in the second half leave the viewer with a sense of d? vu. It's L.O.C. revisited, to be honest.
The answer to both is, partly!
Karan [Hrithik Roshan] is a happy-go-lucky dude with a laidback attitude towards everything in life. His childhood sweetheart Romi [Preity Zinta], on the other hand, is a modern girl who speaks her mind. On an impulse, Karan decides to join the armed forces and gets enrolled in the Indian Military Academy.
Karan is determined to make something of himself and prove that he has what it takes, despite what his father [Boman Irani] or friends might think.
Unable to cope up with the grueling training sessions, Karan flees from the academy and returns home. But neither Karan's father nor Romi are pleased with this decision. This creates a rift between Karan and Romi and both decide to go separate ways.
Karan and Romi meet again, but the circumstances are different. India and Pakistan have gone to war and Romi, who is now a crusading television journalist, is in Kashmir for a on-the-spot coverage for her news channel. She meets Karan there, who has now graduated to being a key officer.
Karan has just one lakshya now - to cleanse the land from intruders.
After attempting a film on male bonding in DIL CHAHTA HAI, Farhan Akhtar goes into a different zone in LAKSHYA, which brings back memories of AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN [1982; starring Richard Gere] in parts. The young maverick did leave an indelible impression in his first film and with LAKSHYA, he consolidates his position as one of the finest storytellers of India.
However, his storytelling is of the type that may not find universal acceptance. While the intelligentsia/gentry/classes will love his style of narrating a story, the classy treatment may not appeal to the hardcore masses looking for entertainment. LAKSHYA suffers on this count.
Incidents unfold with regular frequency in the first half of LAKSHYA. The gradual changes in the protagonist's life - his metamorphosis from an ordinary to an extraordinary life - is depicted with ?n. The key characters in his life - his sweetheart, his stern father, his ever-loving mother, his friends - all contribute in making the changeover look convincing.
The sequences in the Indian Military Academy in the first half [where Hrithik undergoes his training] have been filmed with flourish. The entire track, from a non-focused youth to a cadet, is one of the best parts of the narrative.
The flashback, which begins soon after Hrithik has watched Preity on TV, is another fascinating aspect of the enterprise. In fact, the goings-on seem straight out of life, making you realize that film-making is undoubtedly the director's medium.
Though the story has twists and turns aplenty in the first half, the problem is that everything unfolds at a very lethargic and sluggish pace. In fact, the narrative moves at such an unhurried pace throughout that an average Indian cinegoer would start feeling restless after a point.
While the first half is engaging, despite its slow pace, the second half disappoints big time. For, the graph of the film starts sliding downwards in this half. The war scenes [though well executed] get boring after a while, more so because similar scenes had been witnessed a few months ago in J.P. Dutta's L.O.C.
Besides, the interesting moments come in bits and spurts in the post-interval portions. For instance, the intruders eliminating a few Indian soldiers and only six remaining to accomplish the mission, is deftly executed. Ditto for the jawans climbing the rocky peak in the pre-climax [reminds you of the beginning of the Tom Cruise starrer MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2] - the sequence is a novel experience for the Indian audiences.
However, Farhan Akhtar can easily trim at least 15-20 minutes in this half, purely because the film starts dragging after a point. Even the songs in the second half can easily be deleted because they don't contribute in taking the story forward. Actually, they are a hindrance to the goings-on.
One-film-old Farhan Akhtar takes colossal strides as a director in his second venture. His storytelling is riveting, his penchant for breathtaking visuals is evident in every frame, plus he has drawn fantastic performances from the cast. As a technician, he is amongst the best today.
But Farhan ought to keep in mind that more than visuals, performances and technique, the Indian cinegoer is thirsting for a spellbinding story and a taut screenplay, which the second half of LAKSHYA lacks. Besides, the protracted pace and refined treatment has its limitations.
Javed Akhtar's script has several interesting incidents in the first half, but you can hardly count the intriguing ones in the post-interval portions. However, the dialogues are flawless and only a seasoned writer could've come up with such lines.
Cinematography is outstanding. The visuals of North India look mesmerizing and one can't help but fall in love with the locales. The lighting during the war scenes is also perfect. Overall, the film bears an international look.
The action scenes are well executed. Though the war scenes may meet with diverse reactions [ladies and kids won't like it], their execution is perfect.
Music [Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy] is functional, with just one number leaving a mark, 'Main Aisa Kyun Hoon'. The choreography [Prabhu Deva] of this track is awesome. The background music is effective.
LAKSHYA belongs to Hrithik Roshan undoubtedly. A performance like this comes once in a while and can compete with the best from across the Atlantic. The ease with which Hrithik slips into the character is amazing and the outcome is spellbinding. If he is lovable as the aimless youngster, he is admirable as the officer.
Preity Zinta's character Romi is modeled after renowned TV journalist Barkha Dutt and she enacts the part with incredible ?n and authority. Amitabh Bachchan doesn't get much scope, but his work is commendable. His dialogue in Marathi will meet with a thunderous response in Maharashtra mainly.
Om Puri has a few scenes and he does it well. Amrish Puri is wasted. Of the strong supporting cast, Boman Irani and Sushant Singh leave the most impression.
On the whole, LAKSHYA will meet with diverse reactions. While the intelligentsia/gentry/classes will love the film, those looking for typical Bollywood masala entertainer will be disappointed. At the box-office, the film has already taken a fabulous start everywhere. While the advance booking status will ensure a cent per cent response at metros [Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata] in the first week, the collections will start cracking at places where the system of advance booking doesn't exist. From the business point of view, the film will prove Class 'A' at 'A' class centres, 'B' at 'B' class centres and 'C' at 'C' class centres. The business prospects will be the brightest in Mumbai, but weak in certain pockets of the country. Also, the opposition of yet another biggie, DEEWAAR [next week], will make a dent for sure.