Film: Lashtam Pashtam
Cast: Samar Vermani, Vibhav Roy, Dolly Ahluwalia, Om Puri
Director: Manav Bhalla
Rating: * * ½
Remember the formidable Indo-Pak doubles tennis pairing of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi, that made waves on the ATP circuit and even came close to winning a Grand Slam tournament at the US open 2010? Well, this film under review bases it’s central conceit on a germ of an idea derived from their unlikely combination.
Here the roles loosely inspired by the celebrated duo are essayed by Sid Oberoi as Samar Virmani and Vaibhav Roy as Fahd Khan. They start-off as doubles partners at the Dubai Tennis tournament – which falls through, because of Fahd’s father’s untimely demise. Fahd is hell-bent on fulfilling his father’s dream of winning a championship with Samar and so gets back on the court with the Indian.
Lashtam Pashtam, the moniker itself could be off-putting, especially if you don’t cotton on to its meaning. Well, ‘Anything for my brother’ may best describe the main thread of this story but it does little to lend it the import it aspires for. Indo-Pak issues are always tricky to portray but here, the director steers clear of the communal hatred and allows for a bond to develop between the two main leads – thus ensuring longevity in the partnership even though their respective families and interpersonal connections might not support it entirely.
While the narrative might hint at cross-border fissures in the background, there’s a strong cementing brotherly love holding fort in its very core. The lead performances are amiable if not effective. Dolly Ahluwalia as the Naniji who delivers a stirring denouement on cross-border hatred socks it with gusto while Om Puri as the cab driver with a heart of gold makes it to endearing. This film is an earnest effort at best and may well be forgotten but not for it being India’s famed International export, Om Puri’s, last effort before his sad demise.