The year 2003 has witnessed several new directors exploding on the Hindi screen. A few made an impact, while others vanished into thin air, going completely unnoticed.
ZAMEEN, directed by debutante Rohit Shetty, catches you unawareï¿½
For, the film tackles an oft-repeated issue ï¿½ the sensitive Indo-Pak relations ï¿½ that has been recycled on the Hindi screen time and again. So, how is ZAMEEN different?
Also, depicting a real-life incident [Indian Airlines' hijack to Kandahar] on celluloid and getting the chronology of events right is easier said than done, more so for a first-time director. You have to tread cautiously. One wrong move, the impact could boomerang.
Handling a mammoth star cast and giving the film a larger-than-life look can prove to be an arduous task.
Rohit Shetty, who makes his debut as director with this film, passes in all three sections. With distinction marks at that!
Col. Ranvir [Ajay Devgan] captures the mastermind of Al Tahir organisation Baba Zaheer [Mukesh Tiwari].
Six months later, during a fierce skirmish at the Indo-Pak border, four terrorists cross over to India. Ranvir takes over the case and tries to trace these four men, their identities, their motive, their destination, their plan.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, A.C.P. Jai [Abhishek Bachchan] is tracking a gang that is involved in trafficking arms into the city. But what he uncovers opens a Pandora's Box.
Ranvir arrives in Mumbai to track down these men and quash their mission. But Jai and he are too late ï¿½ the terrorists successfully hijack an Indian Airways' aircraft and fly to P.O.K.
Although one has witnessed innumerable films that tackled terrorism [coincidentally, Ajay Devgan's recent starrers QAYAMAT and PARWANA also tackled the issue of terrorism!], ZAMEEN is a cut above the ordinary in terms of scripting and execution. The film looks at the hijack of an Indian aircraft, with passengers on board, and how the army and police join hands to find a solution to the crisis.
Besides delving into the hijack issue in the second half of the film, the chronology of events ï¿½ right from the arrest of a terrorist in the valley to the militants crossing the L.O.C. to the crisis that ensues ï¿½ have been simplified for the common man to decipher. References to Akshardham temple and the attack on the Indian Parliament only make the goings-on germane, topical and identifiable.
The first half is truly riveting. The arrest of the militant [Mukesh Tiwari] in the valley, Abhishek chasing Sanjay Mishra in broad daylight on a busy road and the chase between the militants and the police just before the hijack, leave you spellbound.
There's no denying that the action sequences [Jai Singh] are breathtaking, but the way director Rohit Shetty has juxtaposed them in the script is what deserves to be lauded. Besides, the film moves on a singular track throughout ï¿½ there're no cheap thrills, no forced comedy, no running around trees.
The film looks at the terrorism issue with as much seriousness as the common man experiences it in reality.
Although the second half does take its inspiration from the Harrison Ford flick AIR FORCE ONE  and the Kandahar episode, making the aircraft land in P.O.K. builds up the curiosity of the viewer.
The second half tends to get slow, but it gathers momentum when an Indian delegation lands in P.O.K. to mediate with the militants. From thereon, right till the finale, the film succeeds in keeping the viewer mesmerised.
Director Rohit Shetty handles the dramatic sequences with ?n and the pace at which the story moves ahead is just right. Besides, there's consistency in his work throughout the film. The confrontations between Ajay and Abhishek and also between Ajay and Mukesh Tiwari in the pre-climax are proof that the director knows his job very well.
Writer Suparn Verma deserves kudos for giving that extra sheen to the enterprise with his deft writing. Although a number of films have depicted terrorism/militancy in the past, ZAMEEN depicts an incident [Kandahar episode] that is still fresh in the minds of the Indians without commercialising the issue. This is Suparn's finest work to date!
Himesh Reshammiya's music is hummable. The film has three songs in all [the title track ï¿½ picturised on singers Shaan and K.K., 'Ek Simple Si Coffee' and 'Dilli Ki Sardi'] and all three fit in the goings-on beautifully. 'Dilli Ki Sardi' is a chartbuster and is bound to be lapped up by the masses in a big way.
Dialogues [Javed Siddiqui] are simply brilliant and a major asset to the film. The war of words between Ajay and Mukesh Tiwari in the pre-climax can easily be singled out. Even otherwise, Siddiqui's lines are inkeeping with the mood of the film.
Aseem Bajaj's cinematography is fantastic. The camera movements at several places deserve a special mention. Action sequences, as mentioned earlier, will keep the viewers spellbound. Editing [Bunty Nagi] is efficient.
Ajay Devgan towers above one and all, delivering a performance that's truly awe-inspiring. The actor seems to be accepting challenges and living up to the high expectations that the viewer has from him. The actor of calibre adds yet another feather to his well-decorated cap with this performance.
Abhishek Bachchan is extremely efficient, conveying various emotions, mainly pathos, through his eyes. He is remarkable all through. Cast in a role that has the angry-young-man shades, the actor gives his best shot and comes up with a winning performance.
Bipasha Basu doesn't get much scope, but she registers a strong impact nevertheless. Pankaj Dheer is outstanding, especially in the sequence when he confronts the terrorist. Mukesh Tiwari is first-rate yet again. D. Santosh, Sanjay Mishra and Manish Khanna lend adequate support.
On the whole, ZAMEEN is a winner all the way. The film has all it takes to appeal to the cinegoers and should prove a success story in days to come. Class 'A'.