‘Main bahaut dara hua hoon’
Leave aside Vidyut Jammwal, how many times have you actually seen any leading man from Bollywood expose his vulnerability like this? This is what makes Khuda Hafiz unique, and also very endearing, for the first half of its near two hour narrative. When finding himself at the end of a dark tunnel, the character played by Vidyut practically pleads for help, and doesn’t mind expressing his worst fears while mouthing ‘Main bahaut dara hua hoon’.
Everything is conveyed quite well through sheer body language, stuttering of the voice and especially the eyes. Director Faruk Kabir, who has earlier made a very entertaining Allah Ke Banday exactly 10 years back, explores this vulnerable side of the character quite well as he hunts around for his newlywed wife [Shivaleeka Oberoi] who has gone missing in a fictitious Arab country Noman. Of course you realize soon enough that there is a flesh trade racket in play the moment Vipin Sharma’s character of a travel agent is introduced.
Alas, but the couple doesn’t get it and this is where as an audience your sympathy is running with these simpletons. You are a little ahead of them in the thought process and hence a good connect too happens with Vidyut and Shivaleeka. From drama, it is time for thrills to be introduced as Vidyut along with friendly Pathan Annu Kapoor are set out to hunt for the lady in question, despite all the adversities, ambiguities and uncertainties around.
This is what keeps Khuda Hafiz largely engrossing for the first one hour as you are engaged, engrossed and exciting in this hunt of a common man for his wife, and then clap with euphoria when the deadly knife fight happens around the interval point. In fact when two cop Arab characters [Shiv Pandit, Aahana Kumra] are introduced, hopes are raised for the second hour to be even more exciting as you know that a game of lies, deceit and revenge would unleash from this point on.
Unfortunately though, the graph instead begins to go down from this point on. It isn’t a rapid fall, honestly, as next 15-20 minutes are still fine. However, the cinematic liberties in a supposed real story like this are hard to digest and as the story progresses, the predictable twists, uninspired action, diluted drama and unexciting series of events makes you wonder why things weren’t put together better on paper.
The man who would be able to still pick something out of Khuda Hafiz is Vidyut Jammwal as after the supremely popular Commando series, where he is nothing but a super hero, it is good to see his acting range as a soft-n-vulnerable common man. He does well. On the other hand Shivaleeka Oberoi, who was so good in Yeh Saali Aashiqui in a bewitching role, just doesn’t get scope to perform here. In fact her screen time too is pretty limited. Ditto for Annu Kapoor who is as usual and then doesn’t have anything to contribute in the second half.
Shiv Pandit and Aahana Kumra are good to begin with but then are thrust with such thick Arabic accent that it begins to sound forced (and at times even funny) after a little while. As for Vipin Sharma, he has a knack of making a scene entirely his own whenever he appears on the frame and one just longs to see more of him every time. As a villain, Nawab Shah is there for just one scene but does well, as always.
Now if only Khuda Hafiz would have had an equally exciting second half as the first half, it could well have turned out to be truly all around entertainer this OTT season.