Based on the life of dreaded terrorist Omar Sheikh, whose crimes include masterminding the 1994 kidnappings of foreign tourists in India and plotting the murder of Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.Wikipedia
You might see it as the other side of the same coin that is Shahid. The making of a man deeply affected by similar incidents, but one who chooses a different path.
Omerta, a biographical drama on British-Pakistani terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh directed by Hansal Mehta, opens with unidentified wails flooding a pitch-black screen. This might be the maker’s way of informing us that the story – as is often the case, but frequently neglected by Hindi cinema’s hasty biopic directors – began long before the film that will attempt to encompass it.
Hansal Mehta's Omerta, starring Rajkummar Rao, is a surprisingly passion-less, rote incident-by-incident telling of the story of a man who is part of one of the most shameful chapters in India’s terror history.
With crisp editing and a runtime of 97 minutes, the film never lets you lose attention and the gripping narrative style ensures you are on the edge throughout. Rao proves his mettle once again as he smoothly gets into his cold character who can switch accents and personalities with equal ease – and does it all for the sole purpose of serving the ‘holy war’.
Omerta is an honourable film, but it often looses track of itself as it goes off on tangents so obscure and weak.
A sense of injustice has been flaring in Mehta too since the time his face was blackened by Hindu fundamentalists. The face behind the black paint has since then, been his main subject.In Omerta, he tries to close in on those who smear the paint, and with that change in focus, he achieves something he hadn't achieved yet.Something indescribable; something that terrorists and artists both die trying for: Salvation.
In recounting a widely documented tale, the screenplay hits the right thriller buttons. When violence is perpetrated indiscriminately and without any moral context created with the aid of a detailed back story, it can only be deeply disconcerting. Omerta is just that and therein lies its success.
The director has not invested much screentime into how Omar plans his complex actions or what drove him to such abhorrence. So while Mehta gets the mood right, and Rajkummar works wonders with his limited material, 'Omerta' fails to stir you emotionally.
“Omerta” goes for effect rather than depth by focusing on Omar’s modus operandi rather than his intentions and ideologies. Even as a thriller, it is tepid, never upping the ante. Rajkummar Rao, one of the best actors in the Hindi film industry, puts in a staccato performance. Even he is not able to rise above the stilted script.
Omerta is worth a dekko if you like terror sagas. Interspersing news footage — from the ’90s until the recent Mumbai 26/11 attacks — with a glamourised version of Omar’s life, it does manage to provide an overview of a contemporary terror hero. The likes of him literally have world-safety hanging perilously by a thread. You may as well know his face!
Ultimately his portrait of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh inspires neither fear nor disdain. It leaves you empty and wondering as to what drew Mehta to this guy in the first place.
Omerta has enough elements to keep you glued to your seats. Rajkummar Rao is outstanding and yet again nails another character coming out of a Hansal Mehta film.
It's a shame really that Omerta lacks depth, never giving an insight into Omar's criminal designs. As a thriller, it's pacy and yet, distinctly half-baked and stiff. I assure you, this movie could be about one of most dreaded men of our times but this film tells us nothing about the man that a quick google search wouldn't. As for Rao, a friend rightly puts it - He was good even in Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana; what's special about this then?
Omertà is too class-appealing to make any impact at the box-office. It will, therefore, flop at the turnstiles. It has some hope in the very high-end multiplexes, that too, just in the first weekend.
The word 'Omerta' means a code of silence that members of crime groups adopt when caught by the law. This film shows us how Omar was happy to kill in the name of religion. The staccato storytelling style and the constant shift between past and present is distracting at best. Unfortunately there is no emotional takeaway from the story, so you watch the stabbings and the kidnappings wondering 'what was that?'
Omerta is not a film for the faint-hearted. The jodi of Rajkummar Rao and Hansal Mehta has again proved that they have an hunger for brave and insightful cinema.