The DVD Journal | Quick Reviews: Mission Kashmir
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Mission Kashmir

For those snooty, uninformed types who consider foreign cinema superior to Hollywood fare, we invite them to watch Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir. It's a foreign film, an Indian film (ah yes, the same place that created Sajatit Ray's Apu Trilogy), and it deals with politics, love, family, and tumultuous emotions that — according to foreign-film fetishists — only Un-American pictures can handle with true depth. Its also long, 157 minutes long to be exact, so it must be really complex, much more than say, Spider-Man or the U.S. re-make of Insomnia. Well, it's complex all right, particularly when the talking stops and everyone stars singing and dancing with love-filled glee, earnest sadness, or something we may not be able to understand unless we're Indian or one of those Bollywood film fanatics (who's excluded from the foreign film snob category). "But... wait a second," asks the ignorant film dweeb, "a musical?" Well, yes: a drama, a love story, a political thriller, a shoot-'em-up, bomb-exploding, child-losing, mama-screaming singing-and-dancing musical. That's Mission Kashmir, and hey — that's Bollywood! You see, there's this really, really big film industry in India (the biggest in the world actually) that cranks out movies faster than a Michael Bay screenplay, and many of these films are, well, what you'd call fulsome. Kind of like Titanic, only with more music, more melodrama, and less-impressive special effects. We haven't seen India's entire cinema, so much of their dreck — and probably a lot of masterpieces — don't make it over here. Mission Kashmir may remind you of this. Not that its a terrible movie, its too over the top to be terrible (terrible movies have nothing worth discussion). It's too beautifully filmed, too expertly edited, too ambitious. But, Mission Kashmir is so ridiculous at times that it's hard to know if it's entirely serious. Unfortunately, there's no commentary track on this DVD; it'd be nice to know just what was in the director's mind while making something like this. The plot, briefly: There's a Police Inspector Inayat Khan (Sanjay Dutt) and his wife, Neelima (Sonali Kulkarni), who suffer a tragedy when their little son jumps out of a window (stupidly) and dies, mostly as no doctor will tend him because of a fatwa by a separatist (Puru Raajkumar). Inayat is then on a mission to destroy the separatists and he and his police sadly kill some innocent people. Chiefly, the mother and father of 12-year old Altaf, who is then adopted by Inayat and his wife for some healthy child-replacing and guilt-absolving. It's very comic book (and good in that way) when Altaf figures out his adopted daddy killed his family, and as soon as he's old enough, he vows to kill Inayat. He grows into a big handsome, green-eyed revolutionary (played by the insanely good looking Hrithik Roshan), joining with a real terrorist, Hilal Kohistani (Jackie Shroff), aiding him in "Mission Kashmir," the plan to make Kashmir an independent state. To many, this all sounds like great, top-notch entertainment, and it is. Lavish, big budget, with some spectacular action and dance sequences, Mission Kashmir is a great deal of fun. But for foreign film types, the picture will create a dilemma. "Should I like a movie that's so excessive that the political-minded narrative is fuzzed into near oblivion?" Well, yes you should, especially if you enjoy it. Just don't pretend to understand everything about it. Columbia TriStar's DVD release presents a beautiful, crisp anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) of this colorful film, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio comes in Hindi and English, and an array of subtitles is on board. Note: The English-dubbed track is terrible, but funny in a Max Fisher-play kind of way. Trailers, keep-case.
—Kim Morgan

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