Torbaaz was announced back in 2016. This was the time when Sanjay Dutt was returning to the Bollywood scheme of things and was excitedly signing up newer films. Considering the kind of core plot that the film has, that of an Indian who wishes to rescue Afghani children from turning terrorists by handing them ‘bat and ball’ over ‘bullets and bombs’, Torbaaz did hold promise. Alas, the idea doesn’t really translate into something truly exciting for the audience, as the movie turns out to be quite disappointing.
For starters, it comes across as an incomplete film. It is a known fact that the film went on floors in late 2017 and then a substantial portion was shot in the beginning of 2018. However post that there wasn’t much heard about it right through 2019. It seems that many scenes from the film were yet to be shot but since that couldn’t quite happen, it was haphazardly edited and stitched into some kind of narrative.
All of that can well be evidenced from the fact that there are several scenes that seem incomplete. At places, even interactions do not really lead to any sort of culmination and one misses shots as a whole. This isn’t all as even the dialogues don’t really have a sort of closure to them and that is what impacts the overall narrative of this film that has been put together by Girish Malik. No wonder, when the film begins, it is quite erratic as out of a blue everyone from Taliban, NATO, Afghani refugees to Indians makes an appearance but to no avail.
One just hopes that the arrival of Sanjay Dutt would change the graph of the film but surprisingly, he seems either disinterested or totally lost. He had done a similar geo-political genre film Lamhaa  exactly a decade back and while even that film had a delayed release, it still had a few scenes that made an impact. In case of Torbaaz, you hunt for at least one solid scene featuring the actor but that doesn’t quite happen. Yes, the climax featuring the cricket match is nice but then such is the beauty of this sport that it never fails to entice.
As for Sanjay Dutt though, he either gets poorly sketched scenes or even the ones where he could have possibly made an impact by either being endearing (with the children) or intimidating (with the terrorists), he stays on to be lukewarm. On the other hand Rahul Dev, who plays the role of a Taliban leader, also comes in and out of the narrative at the will of the director and hence fails to leave much of an impact. As per the demand of the situation he is required to go theatrical and that may have worked had it been a uniformly high octane film.
Considering the theme of the film, Torbaaz warranted the coming together of children in such a way that your heart goes out to them. There are 5-6 kids in the age group of 8-15 years who have a prominent part to play in the storytelling. At times, they do manage to leave an impact, either in the light hearted moments or the ones where they need to touch your heart emotionally. However, the lack of consistency in the script and the flow of the narrative meant that the impact is lost soon enough just when one expected it to touch some kind of a high.
What indeed stays on to be a high point right through the film is excellent cinematography that elevates the beautiful locales of Kyrgyzstan (doubling up for Afghanistan). Whether it is snow peaked mountains or the rugged terrain or the infinity view of the landscape, you indeed have your eyes full of the manner in which the country is shown on screen. This would have looked all the more beautiful in theatres. That said, one wonders what the fate of the film would have been had it made it to the cinemas in the current shape.
Talking of that, another thing that I am wondering about is that what is Nargis Fakhri doing the film? She practically has a nothing role apart from giving stock shots of crying ‘yaaay’ when the children are out there playing on the ground.
All in all, Torbaaz is a film that indeed has a good plot but then suffers due to it being a largely disjointed affair.