Wagah has a disclaimer: All characters will speak in Tamil. So Tamil audiences can understand them better. This means that characters in Kashmir and Pakistan, including a General of the Pakistan Army, will say punch dialogues in Tamil.
Already a fun premise.
Wagah opens with a charged televised debate about how the government should tackle the problem of missing and slain BSF jawans. Vasu (Vikram Prabhu), a jawan from Sivagangai, has been missing for two months. Cut to a remote prison in Pakistan, where jawans are being tortured and killed by the Pakistan Army. Vasu is here. The rest of the film is Vasu narrating his story.
Vasu is an ordinary man. He joins the army to get out of his small town. Plus, liquor is free in the army, and always chilled in Kashmir.
He doesn’t enjoy the BSF way of life at first. Looking at mountains all day is boring. Then he meets Khanam (Ranya Rao), a beautiful woman from a nearby village. They look, they talk, they bond. They even have a duet and roll around in the snow.
Never mind that the hero wears parka jackets and heavy sweaters, and the heroine wears a flimsy salwar kameez. But hey, she’s the weaker sex. And pretty.
A man who hasn’t stepped out of his little corner of the world lands in the most dangerous part of the country. One day he’s selling produce in his small shop. Next day he’s facing rioters.
You’d think a film titled Wagah, with its patriotic tip of the hat to the border town, would have some kind of meaningful commentry. Wrong. Vasu is literally there for the free booze. Once he’s bored, the only thing keeping him there is his interest in Khanam.
The Pakistan Army and its officials are the embodiment of evil. They shoot a cute little lamb when it tries to cross the border. We are then told that the Pak Army doesn’t know the difference between humans and animals.
The secret jail is a farce. The general decides the fate of the prisoners by having two jawans fight in a dirt-filled pit each day. The winner will live another day. The loser is killed. Towards the end, in a dialogue reminiscent of Vijayakanth’s films, the General says that he hates India and Indians, because if India grows, Pakistan won’t.
That’s supposed to awaken the patriot in us.
There is no dearth of compelling stories in Kashmir today. No dearth of stories that need to be told. But GNR Kumaravelan has wasted an opportunity. Wagah could easily have been a gripping Army drama with memorable characters.
Instead, Ranya Rao is given the stock role of a beautiful woman who has to look pretty, smile when the hero walks by, and look confused when he declares his love. Also, cry throughout the second half. In one tense scene, with everyone around her dead, she challenges Vikram Prabhu to a running race in the middle of a jungle.
Loosu ponnu 101.
There’s nothing new in D Imman’s music either. We love his Ayyiyo Anandhame from Kumki (2012). But it looks like Imman loves it more. Most of the BGM tracks are heavily inspired from the song. The atrocious fighting pit sequences are accompanied by a high-energy dubstep tune.
In the climax, Vikram Prabhu (a halo missing from his head) tells the evil General that making a country great is about not antagonising its neighbours. Ironically, that is exactly what GNR Kumaravelan does with Wagah – trying to induce patriotism by portraying the Pakistan Army as minions of the devil.
We live in the era of race-baiting belligerent nationalism and chest-thumping rhetoric that doesn’t seem to care how many innocent people die. In such a scenario, Wagah‘s crude portrayal leaves a bad taste.
The Wagah review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.