Verdict: Intentions are great, execution – not so much.
Many of those who love to travel, aspire to board the Maharaja train at least once in their lifetime. And why not? It is one of the most popular and luxurious trains in the country. But there's one more train that has gained popularity recently and is called the cancer train. It runs from Bhatinda to Bikaner with almost 60% of the passengers being cancer patients. After Udta Punjab that dealt with the drug abuse in that part of the country, the film Irada informs you about another grave issue corroding the state of Punjab. The state that boasts of starting the green revolution has become the cancer belt of the country with an average of 90 people out of every lakh suffering from cancer due to the excessive use of pesticides for the crops.
The film has many characters with different stories connected to each other because of one reason. Paramjeet Walia (Naseeruddin Shah) is an ex-army officer, who has been training his daughter Riya (Ruman Molla) to be an NDS officer finds out that she is suffering from lung cancer. Rimi (Sagarika Ghatge) is a journalist who is looking for her missing RTI activist boyfriend and is seeking justice. In between all of this, the factory causing all the contamination is mysteriously bombed. The factory's owner (Sharad Kelkar) pushes the CM (Divya Dutta) to get back the insurance amount anyhow, as the company's worth was more than 6000 crores. The CM hires an NIA Officer (Arshad Warsi) to get the work done. The evidence is erased, the witnesses are killed and the environment is polluted. Nothing seems what it is in this eco-thriller that puts forward an issue that was far unknown to us until today.
The film boasts of an amazing cast including Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Divya Dutta, Sharad Kelkar and Sagarika Ghatge. They have truly kept the otherwise haywire script going on their shoulders. Naseeruddin Shah is at his best as the mourning father and Divya Dutta makes you hate her with small nuances, like even by the way she eats. Arshad Warsi as the NIA Officer is just right. The film has been written and directed by Aparnaa Singh who, we must say, has got the formula right, except for a few things here and there.
In the first scene, you see an RTI activist running with some classified documents and in the second, you see him get kidnapped. Then you see a father training his daughter and a journalist accusing a business tycoon of illegally contaminating the soil. While all this in the first five minutes of the movie makes your Irada strong enough to sit through the entire movie, the story loses its grip one scene after the other in the first half. The only thing that keeps you sitting are the terrifying statistics about cancer that has spread throughout a state that is the agricultural king of the country.
The film has an extremely strong plot with a subject untouched so far. The revelation of facts about the ecological imbalance one after the other keeps you interested throughout the movie. The only thing that loses points here is the treatment to the flow. There are parts left incomplete, scenes that are irrelevant and connections that didn't really hit the way they were intended to. But the disclosure of facts makes you worry about an otherwise percieved-to-be flourishing state of Punjab.
The movie introduces you to a new kind of terrorism that is killing humans faster than all the other kinds of terrorism combined. Do make sure you watch the end credits as it will tie a few strings left lose during the movie.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
The movie deals with an extremely important social and ecological issue and puts forward spine-chilling facts that will keep you wondering for a while. Watch it for the performances. Also, this one is a fictitious version of a terrifying truth which most of the country is unaware of.