MUMBAI: The title Irada comes across as B-grade 1970s and it has little relevance to the theme of the film, which is honourable. The film is about an ecological problem, almost a disaster. The issue dealt with here, though, is not as infamous or as well known as the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Punjab has recently been facing an ecological calamity thanks to overuse of chemicals and pesticides in its farming processes. And this is supposed to have penetrated deep enough into the earth to pollute the land, the food grown here as well the underground water resources.

Naseeruddin Shah’s character is a retired but much decorated army man who is training his daughter, Rumana Molla, to qualify as an army cadet. The famous Punjab canals where he trains his daughter to set swim time records, happens to be full of cancer-causing chemicals and she develops the disease.

The reason is the reverse bore-welling process owned by a tycoon, played by Sharad Kelkar, whose company packs all the destructive chemical back into deep earth. The process affects not only all the land in the area but also its farming and waters deep down as well as those flowing through its canals.

Sharad and the devilish chief minister of the state, played by Divya Dutta, are in cahoots and there is little the local NGOs or the police can do about this equation. The situation is so bad that every family is said to have a cancer patient and a point is reached when the state runs a Cancer Express, on which the afflicted travel for treatment.

Suddenly, the cancer causing poisonous factories of Sharad are blown up one fine day. Sharad is wild and so is his bankrolled CM, Divya.

In comes the character of Arshad Warsi, an investigator from the National Investigation Agency, (NIA). Things go a bit haywire here as though Arshad is a central government agent, but the local CM, Divya, treats him like a stooge as if he was the state employee. In between, people are kidnapped, killed and so on all as a matter of fact.

Naseeruddin, and the cop, Arshad, the single-malt-sharing righteous ones join hands to fight the menace.

Here, as in so many such public interest films, the subject is not known to the masses. This has been a local issue unlike the Bhopal incident. That notwithstanding, the process is not shown as to how our heroes, Naseeruddin and Arshad, reach certain conclusions.

Besides this being a local issue, the makers somehow feel that the plight or the essence of the film would be better explained in the filmusing Punjabi language, which is alienates much of the audience. The thriller is treated like many others where the solutions and conclusions that the lead characters arrive at are given and the audience taken for granted. The viewer is not a part of the investigation process.

The film is tautly executed and easy on the eye. The businessman-politician as partners in crime makes it routine subject. The dialogue writing is meaningful and deep. There is no scope for songs. The editing is effective. The direction and treatment are taut.

With good performances all around, the two who excel are Divya Dutta and, in a brief role, Rumana Molla. Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi contribute with their seasoned act. SharadKelkar is effective in a negative role. Sagarika Ghatge is okay.

The film has nothing really to draw entertainment seeking viewers.

Producers: Falguni Patel, Prince Soni.

Director: Aparnaa Singh.

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Rumana Molla, Divya Dutta, Sharad Kelkar, Sagarika Ghatge.

Running Shaadi....So routine!

Earlier titled Running, Running Shaadi is supposed to be another rom com like so many before it. The rich versus poor, the city girl vs gawaar and so on has been the staple for love story writers. An attempt has been made to give it a contemporary look. And, it is not incidental that such films are based in the Hindi belt. This one adheres to the norm. It is based in sada Amritsar, the heart and soul of Punjab.

Basing the film in Punjab was fine but, the makers seem to have got carried away. They even made almost the whole film in Punjabi! And, with no subtitles!

Amit Sadh’s character works in a fabric shop, Singh & Singh, in Amritsar, owned by a Sikh family managed by father and son where, along with a couple of others, Amit is a help. An illiterate from Bihar, he is a hands-on help for the shop as well as the owners’ personal errands like from the shop to domestic affairs. He is the trusted one.

Singh’s daughter, played by Taapsee Pannu, is an outgoing girl, defying norms. Along with the rest of the Singh family, she also counts on Amit whenever she is in trouble besides using him as a proxy. Just short of her 18th birthday, she has had a misadventure with a college friend leading to the need for a gynecologist.

The only person she can trust to help her with the episode is Amit. While she gets over her unwanted pregnancy, Amit is the one who tends to her. Already nursing an infatuation for Amit, she is now in love with him what with all his caring ways.

That is when Amit falls short of his boss, Singh’s, expectations. Insulted by his boss, he walks out on his job. Illiterate he may be but he is never short of ideas. Having seen an eloping couple being thrashed by relatives, he comes up with an idea inspired by, who else but Bill Gates. He suggests he and his cheerful Sikh friend, Arsh Bajwa aka Cyberjeet, launch a portal to help and facilitate runaway couples.

The portal has a lawyer and a magistrate in its loop and soon becomes a big success. And, this is all in the first half of the film. The portal has had 49 successful eloping clients, all married off against various odds, thanks to the portal, running shaadi.

But, the 50th eloping shaadi on the running shaadi portal is going to be the portal’s own host, Amit, something he never contemplated!

The second half is all about Taapsee talking Amit into marrying her and, sadly, this half contains just about every scene and sequence seen in umpteen earlier films. For the viewer, it feels never-ending. This part takes the film down all the way.

Writing wise, the film is just another recycled love story. It is not cute as it was aimed to be. And, what is it with the Punjabi background film telling its story in Punjabi? Direction is routine. Editing is weak. Songs are sober but incidental; they don’t aid the story or process of the film. Cinematography is fair.

Amit Sadh, despite lack of expression, carries his limited range just about enough to suffice for the film. Taapsee Pannu is okay but her Punjabi is such a drawl, you feel like learning lip-reading. Arsh Bajwa as a comedian sidekick of the hero is not comic. Brijendra Kala is, as usual, good. Neena Singh, in a brief role, is energetic and impressive.

Running Shaadi lacks novelty and is a routine fare with scarce entertainment value.

Producers: Ronnie Lahiri, ShoojitSircar.

Director: Amit Roy.

Cast: Amit Sadh, Taapsee Pannu, Arsh Bajwa, Brijendra Kala, Neena Singh.

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