Khuda Haafiz’s leading man Vidyut Jammwal is known for his over-the-top action and the parts where the film comes truly alive are when Vidyut shuns his common man’s identity and becomes an avenging angel on the lines of Liam Neeson from Taken. As Vidyut’s playing a software engineer and not an army commando, the action has a toned-down, non-professional quality to it. Given his prowess for perfect moves, it would have been kind of hard to achieve. The sequence we best liked was an Old Boy inspired fight scene inside a big house, where he’s shown stabbing everyone in sight. In another scene, he fights Nawab Shah’s character by randomly throwing forks, knives and chilly powder. In fact, the film’s best stylised fight sequence is between Shiv Panditt and Ahana Kumra.
Khuda Haafiz is said to be inspired by true events. Lucknow lad Sameer Chaudhary (Vidyut Jammwal) marries the girl of his parents’ choice, Nargis Rajput (Shivaleeka Oberoi), daughter of a Hindu-Muslim couple. It’s a traditional match but they soon find love and commitment aplenty. Their happy world comes crashing down when they both lose their jobs during the 2008 recession. That’s when they decide to seek employment in the fictional country, Sultanate of Noman. She reaches there first and soon Sameer gets a Taken-like call from his wife, who hints she’s been abducted. Sameer rushes to Noman where he’s helped by a Pathan cab driver (Annu Kapoor). He does find where his wife is but isn’t able to rescue her as he’s outnumbered. The Noman government assigns two gung-ho cops, Faiz Abu Malik (Shiv Panditt) and Tamena Hamid (Ahana Kumra) to help him out. Several false leads later, he is able to finally unravel the mystery and rescue his beloved wife.
Noman is a strange country where almost everyone knows Hindi. Shiv Panditt and Ahana Kumra play local cops and their Arabic accent keeps changing with every frame. Thankfully, after a while, they revert to chaste Hindi. Annu Kapoor is an Afghani taxi-driver plying his trade in Noman and he certainly makes sure his Pathan accent comes out as believable. What we don’t understand is why Shivaleeka Oberoi gets so less dialogue. She disappears soon after marriage and we only catch minute glimpses of her in the rest of the movie. The emotional connect between her and her husband isn’t played out well and hence you don’t root for her character. We don’t get to know her at all. Nor do we know about Vidyut’s past. Vidyut at least gets to show his concern over his lost wife. But her side of the story isn’t shown at all.
Khuda Haafiz truly had the potential to be a cracker of an action-filled romance. But patchy writing has diluted its impact. The only thing that works here, as said earlier, is Vidyut’s virtuosity as an action star. Watch the film for some well-crafted set pieces and you won’t get disappointed…
Trailer : Khuda Haafiz
Pallabi Dey Purkayastha, August 14, 2020, 11:00 PM IST
STORY: The lives of newlyweds Nargis (Shivaleeka Oberoi) and Sameer Choudhary (Vidyut Jammwal) come crumbling down as economic slowdown hits India in 2008 and the couple’s now out of work. The duo applies for jobs in the Sultanate of Noman. But as fate would have it, Nargis is snatched away by some dangerous people in the foreign land. Sameer resolves to bring her home safe and sound. What has transpired?
REVIEW: In the opening sequence, a coy Sameer asks Nargis if she had agreed to marry him because of family pressure and if she had a boyfriend that she still has unresolved feelings for. This Lucknow boy’s naivety appeals to Nargis. And before you know it, the duo enters into holy matrimony and is drunk in love within days of saying ‘Qubool Hai (I accept it)’ to one another. In a different setting, writers Faruk Kabir (also the director) and Zaheer Abass Qureshi portray the sudden crashing of the world economy and how India grapples under its shockwaves. Needless to say, the lead pair too faces the brunt and both lose their jobs within months of tying the knot.
Desperate, the couple applies for work to foreign countries like the Sultanate of Noman through a sketchy job placement agency in Lucknow. While Narigis’s work visa arrives, Sameer has to wait for five more days. But all’s not well in the Noman paradise as Nargis makes a panic phone call to her husband, claiming “nothing’s what it seemed to be” and that “she is being treated badly”. Something sinister is at play and Sameer knows it, and leaves home with the sole mission of bringing his wife back. Upon reaching, he is confronted with the harsh reality of his circumstances—Nargis is now in the clutches of the dark alleys of flesh trade. How is he going to save her, and most importantly, where is she?
As the name suggests, ‘Khuda Hafiz’ is the tale of a man’s love and longing for his beloved who’s faced with an adverse situation in an alien world. True, when laid out in black and white, the screenplay shows immense potential and could have very well been a game changer in the intense romance-thriller saga. But it’s not. Because of the element of thrill and fear of the unknown, the first half of the film is somewhat engaging and for the first half-an-hour or so, you would want to know what’s in store for these lovebirds. But that initial curiosity is soon butchered by wishy-washy storytelling and a script that acquiesces to the fail-safe techniques typically administered in hit crime-thriller love rigmarole.
However, the way writer-director Faruk Kabir manoeuvres this subgenre is, for the lack of a better term, all too convenient. For one, every other character that crosses path with Vidyut Jamwal’s Sameer is either a Pakistani, Indian or a Bangladeshi who is either eager to help this suspicious-looking tourist or speaks fluent Hindi. Speaking of accents, Shiv Panditt’s Faiz Abu Malik from the make-belief law enforcement agency ISA is absolutely distracting; not so much for his acting but for the fake accent he puts on and occasionally forgets to hold on to. An otherwise skilled Aahana Kumra as detective Tamena Hamid lacks the flair and flamboyance she usually brings to her craft. The damaging factor of her character arc is also the accent: forced upon, caricaturish and should have been done away with. Local cabbie and Jamwal’s wingman Annu Kapoor (playing the role of Usman Ali Murad) is personable in parts and is entrusted with pushing the story forward. Works to a reasonable extent but then the bizarreness of the plotline overpowers Kapoor and he is left in the backseat, hanging mid-air. The blossoming of their friendship does not seem organic to say the least. And quite frankly, neither does Shivaleeka’s and Vidyut’s. Just like the second part of the film, the intensity of their romance lacks conviction and defies logic even by love story standards.
In action sequences, Vidyut Jamwal is a sight to behold: packing punches, landing mighty kicks with his veins popping and face throbbing. Between the two, Vidyut is more emotionally invested in getting the nuances of his character right. Shivaleeka, on the other hand, looks drop-dead gorgeous as the small-town belle but her acting chops need serious honing.
In Bollywood, the essence of love is captured primarily through love ballads. And composers Amar Mohile and Mithun Sharma do not disappoint. ‘Jaan Ban Gaye’, ‘Mera Intezaar Karna’ and ‘Aakhri Kadam Tak’ are absolute musical delights. The background score, too, is one that intensifies the dread in serious scenes and softens the theme of fright in places where the duo is seen pining for one another.
‘Khuda Haafiz’ — literal meaning ‘May God be your Guardian’ — does not have the most innovative script on the planet but it still could have worked had it not been for the randomness in the second half and the outrageously sham Arabic accents. Watch it for Vidyut flexing his muscles in the most amusing way imaginable, peeps!