Do perceptions end up driving our beliefs? Is reality different from what it seems? Can prejudice lead to unexpected outcomes?
These are some of the questions that Dnyanesh Zoting directed Collar Bomb asks which begins as a terrorist drama leading to hostage crisis situation but eventually turns out to be something altogether different. Had this film been made in Hollywood, rest assured Liam Neeson would have been the first choice. Here, this Disney+Hotstar offering has Jimmy Sheirgill leading the show. Though even I believed initially (after watching the promo) that this could well be in the same zone as A Wednesday, as it turned out the film had a different flavor.
A terrorist [Sparsh Srivastav, seen earlier in Jamtara] enters a school with a collar bomb around his neck. He threatens to kill the kids but not without giving a choice to their parents. If they end up sacrificing their lives instead then he would spare the kids. Weird occurrences begin to take place in Simla (where the film is set) as Jimmy is the chosen one by the terrorist to help him in this action plan. Even as parents either begin to get murdered or end up taking their own lives, newer layers begin to unfold. As it turns out, the whole plan is far more sinister than it seems.
Somewhere at the core of it, Collar Bomb had a very good idea and even the core plot was interesting. However, given the limited duration of the film (around 80 odd minutes), things either unfold way too fast or are left unexplained. In fact the first 20 minutes end up opening so many plots and sub-plots that as a viewer you are either confused or left with too many questions that get unanswered. Quite a few portions of the proceedings are left to the viewer to engage all by themselves and that is more to do with missing writing than testing intelligence.
In fact particularly puzzling is the way Jimmy is given certain tasks to be executed, and importantly the manner in which he goes about putting these to actions. Moreover, cinematic liberties are far too many. Still, given the fact that the proceedings are quite fast paced, you don’t end up spending much of the time unraveling what has already happened and instead move on to what would potentially happen next. It is only towards the last 20 minutes though that things start falling in place and the pieces of puzzle that come together.
Here too, there are two sides of the coin. On one end you do like the idea, even as the antagonist explains why things were unfolding the way they were where Jimmy’s past and present are connected. That is quite good, convincing and entertaining as well. On the other end, logic goes for a toss in the way some back story elements are detailed, and even the master-plan which was full of loopholes with many evident failure points that could have aborted the narrative with a thud.
The good part though is that a crucial piece of the story is revealed right at the end, and that too in a subtle way, which ends up making Collar Bomb a satisfying affair. This is where you get answers to questions related to perceptions, beliefs, reality and outcomes, something which does have philosophical undertones but not in a preachy manner.
As for the performances, Jimmy Sheirgill is good, though the film isn’t the kind that requires him to demonstrate histrionics. He has played far more challenging roles in the past. Naman Jain (that brightest spot from kiddie film Chillar Party) has a serious part to play here and he is fine. Sparsh Srivastav is decent as well, though he is required to carry a single tone of emotion. Asha Negi is good as the Himachali cop, though her character arc is just about okay. Rajshri Deshpande is unrecognizable and is decent as well.
This is how Collar Bomb as a film turns out to be as well. It is a decent affair but then gets some extra marks due to the core idea and the plot creation which is interesting despite being farfetched.