Torbaaz - Movie Review

Children living in terrorist camps are not Terrorists; In fact they are the first victims of terrorism.

Once I finished watching the film, I was wondering what was this film all about – was it Cricket, Sanju’s comeback or perhaps, simply hope within despair. Girish Malik has directed Torbaaz which was to be released on the Big screen, however it was released on Netflix on 11 Dec. ’20. The film has a mixed review all over the internet though I generally do not read any of them before I watch as well as pen my own thoughts. For me, it set me thinking about life’s priorities. The purpose of education, faith, spirituality, law of the land and of course, love and compassion towards fellow humans. Loads of philosophy from the film. But that’s for another day. 



The film is about a Medical Doctor who reluctantly visits Kabul (as per the film’s screenplay) to honour a commitment to his late wife’s friend who runs a refugee camp in the war torn country. He’s seen reluctant to travel to the Country, even tearing off his Boarding Card just before take-off. Nasser Khan (Sanjay Dutt) and his wife Meera (Priyanka Verma) & son were earlier living in Kabul where the latter two succumb due to a human suicide bomber’s attempt to continue the unrest. He travels back to the city at the behest of Ayeesha (Nargees Fakri) who has now built a Refugee camp and is providing livelihood and hope for a few hundreds. 



Once in the town, Nasser takes a liking to kids who are aspiring to play Cricket. Just that some of these kids are actually human shields for Fidayeen attacks and are promulgated at a young age by the Talibans, the apparent natives of the land who want to protect their motherland against forced occupation by outsiders, mainly the US and NATO. Now, while we see the negative image of the Taliban all over, they too have a justification. Each of us do. However, the end doesn’t justify the means, goes an adage. And this cannot be more apt for the Talibs who are fighting a battle for their right but perhaps not in the right way. Or so does the world percieve. Anything more on this and this article would get geo-political.



Nasser trains the kids, wins the support of the local Kabul Cricket Club and arranges a cricket league match between the two local teams. In all earnest, he is trying to give the children hope for a better future. Little does he realise that some of the kids have been reasonably doctrined already for many years why they must sacrifice their lives for the sake of their brethren and their countrymen and women. Despite Nasser’s best efforts, the film ends with yet another fidayeen attack right after the game of cricket is over by one of the kids who does the act reluctantly and also carries along with him, the gang leader Qazar (Rahul Dev) who has played a very emotive role. 



I’ve been a fan of Sanjay Dutt for over 25+ years. Once again, I reckon that he cannot act for nuts. For, he is so realistic in this role as he reprises Nasser Khan with all honesty, something same as we saw him emote in the last scene of Munna bhai 1 or his rumblings with an imaginary Gandhi character in the sequel. Some of his expressions and facial reactions, especially with his age and grace are simply remarkable. Almost all the kids have done a great role while Nargis could have perhaps played her role through a Zoom call anyway! 


The film has largely been shot in Bishkek in Kyrgystan and some parts in Afghanistan as well. Music by Bickram Ghosh tests your nerve at a few spots all through the movie but nothing more to celebrate. The sad part of the entire film is the screenplay (or the lack of it) and it’s continuity. The film seems to be shot in parts and there is a huge disconnect between certain scenes. For Ex., Qazar allows Nasser to take the kids with him to practice for the game and warns that they are under his watchful eyes even as the gang seem to be having some great fun. In another scene, the local Leader’s photo is to be adorned on posters so the junior team gets some sponsorship. 


Well, at the end of the day, the film is a bit of an eye opener. Especially during the Covid times. While many of us are complaining about our lives, there are kids and others who are battling a different pandemic – of a life long war which has spanned two generations already.

PS: Torbaaz in pashtun language means Black Eagle. There is a scene in the film where a large Eagle attacks a young lamb that strays off the herd, making a symbolic meaning of the film’s undertone message how kids are abducted and doctrined.

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