The Tashkent Files Movie Review 2019: Gripping Political Thriller

The Tashkent Files Movie Review 2019: Gripping Political Thriller

Movie Name
The Tashkent Files
Vivek Agnihotri
Drama, Mystery, Thriller
02 hours 14 minutes

The Tashkent Files Review

When the 2nd Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri died unexpectedly in Russia hours after signing the Tashkent Pact with Pakistan, it did throw up a carton of unanswered questions in 1966. But for more than 50 years, nobody dared ask those questions again and the mystery behind his death remained uninvestigated.

India didn't do justice to Shastri the diminutive Prime Minister who was leonine in his integrity. For neither was there an enquiry into his suspicious death nor was he given his due importance in the history books of the country. It was as if there was a deliberate move to erase him from public memory.

Writer-director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri corrects the injustice done to Shastri by rightly raising the question, ‘Who killed Lal Bahadur Shastri?' In the process of answering it, Vivek gives Shastri the respect that the country owed its late Prime Minister.

The director neatly uses a committee headed by veteran politician Shyam Sundar Tripathi to put forth all the theories that swirled around Shastri's death. He clinches it with the question, why did the government not set up an enquiry into the death of its Prime Minister on foreign soil?

Shades of people from civil society that all of us know are presented through the motley bunch of members on the committee. It includes a historian, an activist, a journalist and a radical Hindu. So it takes a potshot at everybody without taking sides.

Although at the end, suspicions are raised against the Prime Minister who succeeded Shastri, the film doesn't blatantly bash any party or prop up any particular ideology. What it does is to show how dirty politics can be, whether in power or in the Opposition. And it takes Indian cinema a notch up as rarely do we make such a well-researched and watchable political thriller.

The surprise performance comes from young and attractive Shweta Prasad in the central and important role of journalist Ragini Phule. Playing Tripathi, the wily politician from the Opposition, veteran Mithun Chakraborty is in top form. Naseeruddin Shah as Natarajan, the dhoti-wearing minister and Pankaj Tripathi as Gangaram who's quick to jump and bash a minority name, give efficient performances. Mandira Bedi, Pallavi Joshi, Prashantt Guptha, Rajesh Sharma and Prakash Belawadi bring much colour and energy to the committee.

Disclaimer: We are proud that LehrenTV reviewer Bharathi S Pradhan has been appointed an advisory member of the prestigious CBFC. However, her reviews reflect her personal appraisal of a film and do not in any way speak on behalf of the Censor Board.

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  • Dialogues
  • Story
  • Music
  • Screen Play

The Verdict

Vivek keeps the thriller element alive till the end in his narrative. Of course, by its very subject, it’s a film that’ll appeal only to the thinking elite who understand Indian politics.

For a political question that had to be asked and for a long overdue homage to Lal Bahadur Shastri, The Tashkent Files gets a 3.5* rating.


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