Free Press Journal

My Father Iqbal: Woefully short on craft


This yeoman effort by Sujad Iqbal Khan is set in Banni the town nestled between the borders of strife torn Jammu and Kashmir and tourist paradise Himachal Pradesh and is supposedly based on a true incident.

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A peace loving, do-gooder, engineer  Iqbal Khan (Narendra Jha) from J&K’s PWD Department runs into a terrorist roadblock just when he is getting his family on track for their modest middle class ambitions to take fruit.

He has sent his brilliant son (Sudam Aftab Khan), the one he dotes on, to a renowned military  school in Pathankhot while his teen daughter and wife help him cope with his feeling of despondency following the son’s departure.

Then comes the local elections and the candidate (Kumar Vaibhav) he trusts and corrals support for wins but things don’t go as planned. The MLA plays dirty and involves Iqbal in a cover-up of a bag full of RDX.

The upright Iqbal has no option but to sacrifice his life in order to save the children and the school it was intended for. And this happens before his son, who is now an actor on TV, can come home. The end credits has the tagline that essentially exhorts the young to spend more time with their parents.

This film opens with the climactic explosion and ends in quite an anticlimax of expectation. The story is more suited to a short film of around 10 mins and not to the 104 mins of slack, un-enlivening telling, interspersed with soulful ghazals and interesting shayaris that spark interest in bits and pieces.

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The cinematography is first rate and the opening watercolour art aided credit sequence raises the bar quite a bit.  But thereafter it’s strictly going downhill. The narrative lacks purpose, the story has little relevance and the performances while personable tends to theatrics.

Narendra Jha has a feature length role as the protagonist Iqbal here but he can do little to make it memorable largely because there’s nothing in the script to shore up the drama or the complexity. This one is woefully short on storytelling craft and that’s quite a bother!