An enthralling and character-driven thriller, Hansal Mehta's Omerta has subtle blend of real-life events and dashes of dramatic licence to probe the radicalization of a young Pakistani-origin British national. In the film, director Hansal Mehta seeks to dive into the mind of a cold-blooded terrorist, the real-life Omar Saeed Sheikh, played superbly by Rajkummar Rao. As the story unravels, we see how a highly-educated, British-bred Pakistani gets radicalized into becoming an icy murderous agent, currently serving life imprisonment in a Karachi prison for the killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
Well-known Filmmaker Hansal Mehta is famous for making movies with emotional depth like 'Shahid', 'City Lights' and 'Aligarh'. Now, his Omerta is like a three-act play; each act elaborates upon one of Omar’s terrorist missions to accomplish his sinful goals. The movie is gripping, not because of the story, but because you are keen to know more about its hero.
Omerta is a biographical drama on Omar Saeed Sheikh – a British-born terrorist of Pakistani origin, who was responsible for the kidnapping of foreign tourists in India, including the abduction and execution of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh story - the abduction of Western tourists in India in late 1994, his arrest and imprisonment in Delhi, his release in exchange for the IC-814 hostages in 1999, the kidnap and killing of American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 and his trial and conviction in Pakistan, where he is still in prison awaiting judicial review - is in the public domain.
Rajkummar Rao has given a terrific performance. He slips into the skin of Omar with chilling conviction. Timothy Ryan Hickernell as Daniel Pearl matches Rajkummar’s intensity in a few scenes.
The well-crafted, fast-paced Omerta focuses on a man who stands apart from the crowd. The London School of Economics dropout who makes peace with the demons of his mind and harnesses them to wreak havoc on the world obviously does not evoke any sympathy. Omar’s actions, the fear and dread are conveyed through high-decibel sound effects.
This film had the potential to enthrall you with the thought that people like Omar exist in the world. Director focuses on just the ideological aspects of the character, choosing not to delve into what makes him tick. The director has not invested much screen time into how Omar plans his complex actions or what drove him to such hatred. What works is the director’s chemistry with Rajkummar Rao. Mehta reunites with Rajkummar Rao after their work together in Shahid and Aligarh. The collaboration of both is again going to captivate you.
Overall, it is worthy to watch once for Rajkummar Rao’s act and Hanshal Mehta’s direction.