A mysterious bomb blast in a business tycoon's factory prompts the state CM to hire an NIA officer. He meets an ex-army man seeking revenge for his dead daughter and a journalist demanding justice for her slain boyfriend. Nothing is what it seems. The film raises contemporary ecological issue with lot of thrill.
When Udta Punjab came in last year, it made us sit up and realize the dangers of drug abuse and how it has engulfed Punjab. Irada brings to fore something far more shocking. Something that will probably require a grueling war before normalcy can be restored in the wheat bowl of India.
Back in 2012 newspaper reports surfaced about the excess Uranium in Punjab water. Uranium in excess of 50% than what is stated as the safety limit by World Health Organisation! Since then many more reports have been published on the dangerous levels of water contamination in the state, which is also linked to an alarmingly high number of cancer cases. A 2013 report states that the official number of cancer cases in the state was 23,874. The numbers clearly have not gotten better.
Irada takes us into a city in Punjab, which is caught right in the middle of this battle. A city where people are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink. A businessman (Sharad Kelkar) is to be blamed. In his hunger for success, he has knowingly endangered people’s lives. And someone is out there, wanting revenge. There is a blast in a factory and NIA officer Arjun Mishra is called in to close the case without delay. However, the officer, played by Arshad Warsi, stumbles upon clues that are hard to ignore.
Well-intentioned as it may be, Irada almost trivializes the importance of the subject. The screenplay reduces the story to a mere thriller, instead of acting as an eye opener. There is one solitary scene of a train journey, which serves as the big revelation. But that too does not quite translate into the anything substantial.
The inadequacy in the screenplay notwithstanding, Irada manages to entertain. And much of the credit for this goes to an inimitable Arshad. It is his character that holds the film. And then there is a feisty Divya Dutta, who impresses as the Chief Minister. The other characters are half-baked. A usually brilliant Naseeruddin Shah plays a role of a retired army officer with a personal mission. The character is inconsistent at best. Sagarika Ghatge plays a journalist who never does anything ‘journalistic’.
The film ails from budget constraint, at least evidently so. The editing looks hurried and the cinematography is functional.
On the brighter side, while writing is patchy, the dialogues manage to keep the characters from becoming inane. This also keeps the film entertaining, albeit it losing relevance.
Irada falls short of being the next Udta Punjab. Debutante director Aparnaa Singh chooses a brave topic but fails to create a script that could do justice to it. She does get her facts right, butu the approach is superficial and simplistic. Irada does not give the grim picture she set out to create. It is at best an average noir-thriller. Expect nothing more and you may be fairly amused.