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Richa Chadha. Image Credit: Courtesy of Zee5

Film: Lahore Confidential

Streaming on: Zee5

Cast: Richa Chadha, Arunoday Singh, Karishma Tanna, Khalid Siddiqui; Direction: Kunal Kohli

Few films manage a level of absolute uniformity in the quality they peddle — in terms of writing, direction, acting and tech-specs. ‘Lahore Confidential’ is that film. It is absolutely, uniformly a mess.

Once upon a time Kunal Kohli made a romantic thriller about India, Pakistan, Kashmir, and terrorism that went on to be a blockbuster primarily riding the superstardom of Aamir Khan and Kajol. That was ‘Fanaa’ in 2006. A decade and half later, and after a few forgettable films along the way, Kohli takes the ‘Fanaa’ trail again, with a focus on espionage this time.

Beyond serving suspense drama with some great music, ‘Fanaa’ had the odd burst of Bollywoodish poetry voiced by Khan and Kajol. People loved it, which probably gave Kohli the brainwave to expand on the idea this time, mixing spy drama in ‘Lahore Confidential’ with a dose of Urdu poetry.

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Karishma Tanna. Image Credit: Courtesy of Zee5

In Kohli’s latest, poetry creates the common ground for the film’s two protagonists to meet and come closer. Ananya (Richa Chadha), an Indian spy, has been roped in for an assignment in Pakistan. Although deemed far too emotional by many for the job of spying, Ananya’s love for literature — particularly Urdu poetry — is the deciding factor. Her task in Lahore is to forge a bond with Rauf Ahmed Kazmi (Arunoday Singh), a man known for his connections among the Pakistani power set as well as his love for poems.

What follows is boringly clockwork. Ananya and Rauf will be attracted towards each other. Of course, there will be a twist in their tale of love.

The characters in the story are as unimaginative as the storytelling and dialogues, with the writers (S. Hussain Zaidi and Vibha Singh) showing amateurish form. Everything about the narrative is a quick fix to fulfil formula essentials. If Ananya is the reticent and soft-spoken heroine, Karishma Tanna’s supporting act as Yukti, her close friend and associate in Lahore, is predictably fiery, carefree and soaked in hedonism. Yukti’s execution of top secret operations is hilarious, actually — almost as if she is organising a college play.

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Chadha and Arunoday Singh (right). Image Credit: Courtesy of Zee5

The bigger downer is the lead pair. Singh and Chadha look least interested as they go through the motions. One would suspect Kohli himself lost interest somewhere down the line, which is why he ended the film at just 68 minutes — mercifully, he must have realised at that point he never had much of a ‘story’ to tell.