I was shocked at the unbelievably negative reviews that Mission Kashmir garnered upon its release in 2000. The matter was made worse by a somewhat lukewarm response at the box office. After the father of teenybopper romchom “Kaho Naa Pyar Hai”, Hritik Roshan featured in two exquisitely shot and subtly dished out films Fiza and Mission Kashmir. However both of them bombed at the ticket windows and I guess their failure took to Hritik who then plunged into a puddle of mindless and soulless freak shows which featured him as more of a dancing jack than an actor.
Mission Kashmir starts off brilliantly in the picturesque valley of Kashmir were a Shikara(Boat) is shown standing still on Dal Jheel and then the calm is sharply blown by the blowing up of the Shikara. The cast and credit follows which is beautifully structured. The names are shown vaporizing with the “dhua dhua” track playing in the background. Following this sequence the police arrives at the spot and SSP Khan(Sanjay Dutt) is shown saving the life of a comrade from an IED (improvised Explosive Device). The story moves at a brisk pace and we are quickly introduced to the jungle law of Kashmir when a terrorist murder a doctor and friend of Khan for merely treating Khan. Subsequently Khan’s son meets with an accident but no one in the valley agrees to treat him and the kid dies.
Khan is driven crazy by his angst at his son’s death and his inability to fight the terror of the terrorists. Soon after he comes to know of the terrorists whereabouts and launches an all out assault to gun him done and does so successfully. But in cleaning up the mess, he also shoot down the members of a helpless family including their kid daughter. The boy survives and is adopted by Khan and his loving wife Neelima(Sonali Khulkarni). The Boy’s arrival in the Khan household brings happiness back to their gloomy existence but fate has other plans as the boy uncovers Khan’s identity as the killer who murdered his family and disappears into oblivion after trying to shoot Khan.
Ten years pass and the condition in the valley sees very little development. The terrorist forces are planning to strike at the heart of Democracy and tear away Kashmir from India with a master plan known only as MISSION KASHMIR. They recruit Hillal Kohistani(Jackie Shroff) to undertake the mission who in turns asks for a man who would stop at nothing to strike terror in the valley. Altaf(Hritik Roshan), the boy lost ten years ago has survived unfathomable terrors and hardship to return to the valley and extract revenge on the man who took his life and all that he loved away from him. Altaf becomes Hillal’s trump card to initiating MISSION KASHMIR.
Unlike most of the reviews, I found Mission Kashmir, engaging almost throughout. There is a portion where love blossoms between Altaaf and Sufi(Priety Zinta) which drags a bit but the soothing melodies of Shankar Ehsaan Loy quickly come to the rescue with the breathtakingly beautiful locales as an added advantage. Mission Kashmir never gets tedious. The suspense and the action elements blend into the narrative and with some splendid special effects(courtesy Parminder Singh Chaddha and Agnelo D’Souza), the proceedings look real and effective.
The film does suffer towards the end from the typical Bollywood limitations with the final action sequence providing a cliche standoff between the father and the son where the father is able to brainwash a hardened terrorist with words.There are no reasons provided for why Hillal decides to take Khan to Altaaf in the first place. The Ending is also somewhat unconvincing.
Inspite of all its limitations, Mission Kashmir still stands tall as one of the better action flicks to have come out of Bollywood. It is beautifully shot and edited with finesse by Rajkumar Hirani. It does deserve a lot more kudos than what it got.