Raj Kumar Gupta's first effort as director is commendable. Aamir, though repetitive in both message and plot device, leaves an impact which few films this year have had. A clear example of how the end result is more than the sum of its parts.
Aamir tells the tale of muslim doctor, who returns to India, after years in the UK, only to find his family kidnapped by muslim fundamentalists who wish to use him for their nefarious designs on the larger populace. This leads the helpless doctor on to a race against time, running from pillar to post trying to do their bidding. Mumbai here is showcased in all its grit, grime and dirty underbelly. And what an effect it has on the senses! You feel Aamir's pain and frustration at every step along the way. At the outset, when he has to get somewhere in quick time and he runs into a traffic jam, you just can't help but smile wryly at the daily realities of urban life. Along the way, he sees a Mumbai faced by millions of common people, a Mumbai which is harsh and brutal, far removed from his world. The film could have done with more such examples of this brutality, but chooses not to for some reason, and loses out on impact in the process. It tends to focus more on the protagonist's pain and his minute by minute nightmare instead.
Towards the end, he is faced with the decision of his life, whether to stay true to his heart, or selfishly save his family, at the cost of hundreds of lives. He finally finds his peace and smiles for the first time in the film, right in the last scene of the film.
The film unfolds quickly and but slows down in the second half of the proceedings and that is a cause of complaint. A tighter lead up to the finish could have served the film better. Also, the conversations between the kidnapper and Aamir, about being muslim in today's India, are a bit tedious and has been done to death in earlier films.
But whatever said and done, the film keeps you engrossed and you feel for the protagonist every step of the way. The direction is very good and is setting augments proceeds considerably. Cinematography is simply quite stunning. The film uses people on the street quite brilliantly and city comes alive through these folks. Rajeev Khandelwal does a commendable job in his first outing and film rests on his able shoulders throughout its 2 hour duration.
A word on the music. Amit Trivedi's score is simply one of the best soundtracks of the year. Each song grips you sonically, and helps the visual on the screen become a emotional experience. Watch out for the great hooks on 'Chakkar ghumiyo', 'Ek Lau' and 'Haara'. But save up for the gem of a tune, 'Ha Raham karna Aye Khuda'. 2 thumbs up! Great stuff!