Directed by: Kabir Khan
Produced by: Sajid Nadiadwala, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Sohaila Kapur
Music by: Pritam Chakraborty (songs), Julius Packiam (background score)
Written by: Kabir Khan, Kausar Munir
Cinematography: Aseem Mishra
Duration: 2 hours 28 minutes
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller
Censor Rating: (U/A)
After the booming success of Banjrangi Bhaijaan, director Kabir Khan is all game with his next flick – Phantom. With Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif in the lead, Phantom is an action packed, political thriller based on ‘Mumbai Avengers’, a novel by Indian author and former investigative journalist S. Hussain Zaidi. The book is an intriguing blend of facts and fiction, set five years after 26/11 Mumbai attacks. As Kabir Khan has tackled the subject of global terrorism issue in his earlier releases including Kabul Express, New York and Ek Tha Tiger, his choice of presenting this dramatic tale of avenge on the silver screen seems rational. Though its action-packed-trailer looks impressive, here’s our final take on the overall performances and execution of the story.
The story revolves around Daniyal Khan, a dishonoured Army man being played by Saif Ali Khan, and unfolds with his journey across countries to seek justice as a ‘Phantom’ agent recruited by RAW. A few years after the Mumbai’s 26/11 attack, when the government and security agencies are still helpless for not being able to get hold of the masterminds, the nation still vulnerable, and another infiltrator being caught with plans to attack the country, the RAW plans for an avenge. Daniyal who is a part of this mission gets to meet Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif) , who works for a security agency. It is during this journey he realizes that there is always a price to pay and with this mission, the price was very personal.
The soundtrack of Phantom has six songs, all composed by Pritam Chakraborty. Interestingly, four of these songs are actually four unique version of ‘Afghan Jalebi’, out of which the Dumbek version is the most impressive and lures with its folk beats and middle-eastern music. ‘Saware’ and ‘Nachde’ are other two songs of the album sung by Arijit Singh and Shahid Mallya, respectively. Where Saware is a romantic number, Nachde, rich in its Arabic elements, is a dark song.
List of Songs in Phantom:
1. Afghan Jalebi (Ya Baba version)
Singer: Asrar (Syed Asrar Shah)
2. Afghan Jalebi (Film Version)
Singer: Akhtar Chanal Zahri
3. Afghan Jalebi (Dumbek Version)
Singer: Akhtar Channal
4. Ya Baba (Fitna Farebi)
Singer: Nakash Aziz
Singer: Arijit Singh
Singer: Shahid Mallya
Like it is always quoted, “Time is the best healer” but some wounds never heal. And even seven years later every Indian can still relate to the inexplicable pains the horrendous attacks of 26/11 gave to the entire nation. The film opens with these heartwrenching visuals from Mumbai and then the tale of avenge takes over with the sole aim to wipe off every perpetrator behind the attacks. The choice of the story was fair enough and had the elements that could be projected on the silver screen, but somewhere the potential script appeared weaker. Yes, the “thrill” factor is there in the movie but it lacks the details that would keep you hooked. The mission itself lacked confidentiality and thus, at one point everything seemed so obvious and predictable, and it is where the script loses its grip.
The pace of the story is decent enough with a mix of drama, facts, fiction and action. Some elements of suspense have been executed well (mentioning about them here would be a spoiler). The movie being shot across various locations goes well with the demands of the script. While the first half was more engaging, the second half was saved by the climax.
What can add spark to a weaker script is the acting and the movie has a challenge here as well. As Phantom, Saif Ali Khan somewhere lacked the passion and vigor the chase demanded and appeared very spiritless. His expressions and dialogue delivery both did not appeal much or portray conviction.
Katrina Kaif was probably a choice for the script only as a glamor quotient for her flattering demeanor. She looks pretty throughout the movie but that is all about it. Nawaz’s character was actually not her kind of a role and she won’t impress you with anything but her appeal in this one.
Zeeshan Ayyub was a good watch and plays a RAW agent in Phantom in contrast to his characters in movies like Raanjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and last week’s release, All is Well. Sabyasachi Chakrabarty and Rajesh Tailang were also seen in the supporting cast.
The motive behind the mission and the feeling of pride for the nation which this story of fiction touches, makes it worthy of a watch. Tight editing, viable action sequences, right element of suspense and emotion are noteworthy.
The way the lead characters have been defined is not so impressive. While the reason why Daniyal gets court-martialed is too cliche, the reason behind Nawaz being emotionally connected to the mission is quite lame. The movie sadly lacks the excitement that the audience expects from mission-critical thrillers.
The movie does not totally lives up to the hype it created, but can be watched for the aim behind the mission.
Phantom Trivia !
- The film is based on S. Hussain Zaidi’s recent novel (with Gabriel Khan), Mumbai Avengers and is about the post-26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
- The film has been shot in Lebanon (Beirut), India (Gulmarg in Jammu & Kashmir, Malerkotla in Punjab, Mumbai), the UK (London) and Canada (Vancouver). Syria portions shown in the film, were recreated in Lebanon.
- Earlier, Phantom had a working title, Daniyal Khan, based on the character being played by Saif Ali Khan.
- After Agent Vinod, Phantom is yet another Saif Ali Khan’s movie which has got banned in Pakistan after a petition was filed by Hafiz Saeed, the chief of JuD and reportedly the Mumbai attack mastermind. But the actor stated that he was expecting the ban.
- The leading actors, Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif had to learn Kurdish and Arabic for the movie. Also, the intense action sequences were performed by both without using stunt doubles for most of the scenes.
- It is Saif Ali Khan’s first movie with director Kabir Khan.
- Phantom’s first look where both the actors are seen blindfolded in tri-colour and Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel burning in the background, appears very similar to the videogame Homefront’s poster.
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