Movies

‘Romeo Akbar Walter’ review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

John Abraham in 'Romeo Akbar Walter'.

John Abraham in 'Romeo Akbar Walter'.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A childish spy thriller that takes the patriotic spirit back to 1971, to the Indira Gandhi era

Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW) takes patriotism way back to 1971, to the times of Indira Gandhi, of all the prime ministers. At its core is a spy, who is only Hindustani, not a Muslim or a Hindu. Rehmatullah Ali aka Romeo (John Abraham) is the sort who would put nation before self, would sacrifice his present for the country’s future, would even go so far as to erase his identity for India and would choose the motherland over his mother (Alka Amin).

Romeo Akbar Walter
  • Director: Robbie Grewal
  • Starring: John Abraham, Mouni Roy, Jackie Shroff, Sikander Kher, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, Raghubir Yadav, Alka Amin, Anil George
  • Run time: 144 minutes

Beyond this RAW is a Baby (the Neeraj Pandey one) set in Raazi’s Pakistan against the backdrop of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. Only “Baby” gets rechristened as “Joker” here. It’s all about the brave Indian undercover agents on unofficial missions to Pakistan. They quietly (and oh-so-easily) infiltrate the border to regularly transmit significant information to the Indian officialdom. The agents risk everything despite knowing that they’d go unacknowledged and unsung, as and when their cover is blown and they turn into a liability. The master manager of the operations is the chief of operations, Srikant Rai (Jackie Shroff).

Trying to find too much logic here is totally futile. Fashioned along the lines of the childish, old-fashioned B-grade Bollywood-Hollywood thrillers, RAW is all about the hidden transmitters and surveillance rooms and gratuitous third degree torture in ISI detention centres, laughable polygraph tests and sundry similar procedurals and investigations. There are the usual chases, disguises that often have all to do with bad hairpieces and flared trousers, easy identity swapping and a doomed romance needlessly shoved in. Indians appear to be the only intelligent beings around and Pakistanis are corruptible and utterly naive, if not entirely idiotic.

The supporting cast tries to do its best particularly Amin, who makes for the only effortless presence around. Sikander Kher as the Pakistani colonel tries hard at getting the diction right. It sounds great at first hear but becomes too much of a “show” beyond a point, the only peg that the performance appears to hang on. In the name of slickness there are extreme close-ups of Abraham’s eyes and open facial pores. But, even with that tight a reach the camera can’t catch any flicker of expression on his impassive visage.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 6:13:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/romeo-akbar-walter-review-on-her-majestys-secret-service/article26743236.ece

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