Collar Bomb is ultimately an example of good intentions not translating into good cinema
Sanawar mourns the death of a local community child when a bombed man walks into a memorial meeting at his school. He reads an easily identifiable religious quote from Islam and gives instructions to one of the men in the room, Manoj Kumar Hesi (Jimmy Sheirgill), a respected high-ranking policeman.
Hesi must perform certain tasks and thus play a role in defusing the bomb.
It soon becomes clear that the whole operation is tied to accolades Hesi received for a criminal investigation not so long ago. Gunshots explode, people die, a Muslim businessman is targeted for previously employing the guy who has now taken hostages at school, Hesi runs around town, fellow ASI Sumitra Joshi (Asha Negi) is on his heels and a voice on the phone becomes a link to the past.
Bomb Necklace takes its name from the placement of the explosives on the human bomb in the story. At first, the unfolding plot arouses some curiosity as to the direction these events are taking. An early confrontation between Joshi and a politician-led mob is particularly well-executed and believable, reminiscent of a video that went viral on social media a few years ago of a policeman named Gagandeep Singh saving a young Muslim man from a tantrum. Hindu crowd in Uttarakhand.
Gradually however, the plot becomes cluttered and overly complicated, the actions of the mysterious individual controlling the drama become random and self-destructive, and the cornerstone of the whole affair – the identity of the person on the phone and how it got to know each other. of Hesi’s misdeeds – turns out to be a giant escape.
Director Dnyanesh Zoting (whose previous credits include Marathi film Raakshas and Hindi web series Meeting with Saïe) and writer Nikhil Nair set out with the noble goal of exposing confirmation bias centered on class and communal stereotypes prevalent in society. The person punishing Sanawar for his deep-rooted prejudices is allegedly committed to marginalized and minority communities. Yet, it turns out that this individual has no qualms about risking the lives of members of the minority community to get this message across.
Zoting and Nair may well be introspecting their own unconscious biases evident in the portrayal of minorities and the marginalized in their script. While Gagandeep Singh of Uttarakhand is undoubtedly a reality, and the Indian Muslim community is indeed under siege, in a sense, in large parts of India today, telling the story of that siege without giving any agency to the Muslim characters in your plot stinks of a savior complex. The Muslims of Bomb Necklace are plot devices, not people – one exists only to be saved by ASI Joshi while the other is a tool in the hands of the protagonist whose purpose, ironically, is to shatter prejudice, it doesn’t matter if the people against whom these prejudices exist become collateral damage in this mission.
Meanwhile, there is only one Christian family in the whole universe of Bomb Necklace, and (spoiler alert in this sentence) the father is a child abuser, while the dialogues written for both parents are almost entirely in English. (Spoiler alert ends) The focus on English for them is especially noticeable as Hesi addresses them in Hindi. CherniVidya Vincent’s is unusual and refreshing because of the near absence of the Indian Christian minority in Hindi cinema for decades – so if your film features rare Christian characters, like Bomb Necklace fact, it begs the question of why you would choose to make one of them a despicable villain in your play. Two characters in this film are also written to fit the stereotype prevalent in North India that Christians are quasi-Westerns, a trope still perpetuated by Bollywood before the 90s. Again, why?
The film’s confusing politics could have been left out had the mystery held. It’s not. The individual controlling Hesi on the phone has video as ammunition against him. When this individual’s identity is revealed, the scenario in which the video was recorded is unconvincing, and the person’s conduct in this scenario appears unusual given their tendency to otherwise spontaneously intervene in dangerous situations.
Additionally, the person appears to have the magical ability to be in two places at once and other unexplained extraordinary talents.
Bomb Necklace is ultimately an example of good intentions not translating into good cinema. The film is lacking in several departments. The visual effects in the early scenes, when Hesi and her son (Naman Jain) are inside their car driving through the hills, are not up to par. And Sheirgill, that cute boy we all loved maachisdisappoints with surface performance like Hesi.
A happy takeaway from Bomb Necklace is Asha Negi. Hindi TV star, Negi made her film debut in a brief role as the wife of Abhishek Bachchan’s character in Anurag Basu’s Ludo Last year. She gives so much substance, fire and conviction to ASI Sumitra Joshi that she – her character and her performance – remain the most memorable elements of Bomb Necklace.
Will the Nikhil Nair who wrote it with such finesse and the Dnyanesh Zoting who conducted it with such confidence raise their hands and tell us what went wrong with the rest of Bomb Necklace?
Rating: 1.75 (out of 5 stars)
Collar Bomb is streaming on Disney+Hotstar