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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Mission Kashmir (2000)

"I need a man who isn't afraid of death, who so despises his own existence that I can fire him like a missile to destroy the target and himself."
- Hilal (Jackie Shroff)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: June 20, 2002

Stars: Sanjay Dutt, Hrithik Roshan
Other Stars: Preity Zinta, Puru Rajkumar, Sonali Kulkarni
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

MPAA Rating: R for Violence
Run Time: 02h:37m:06s
Release Date: June 04, 2002
UPC: 043396087361
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BA-B+ D+

DVD Review

India has a thriving and vital movie industry, lovingly dubbed "Bollywood", though most of the projects haven't hit any measurable paydirt with Western audiences. Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra is one of the bigger names in India's film community, and he has even crossed international boundaries by helming the first Indian film (An Encounter With Faces) to be nominated for an Oscar® in the short nonfiction film category. With his 2000 release Mission Kashmir now on DVD, Chopra stands his best chance of achieving a degree of notoriety in the States, with a film that more than holds its own next to anything I've seen recently. For all intents and purposes, this is a traditional action film, beautifully shot, with a compelling (if not somewhat melodramatic) storyline.

Mission Kashmir, except for few a decidedly distinct Indian touches (more on that in a bit), could easily have been churned out by the Hollywood hit machine; the story itself is a relatively satisfying mixture of melodrama and action. Set in the Kashmir region of India, Chopra tells the story of Inayat Khan (Sanjay Dutt), a local police officer who leads a raid on the suspected hideout of deadly terrorist Malik Ul Khan (Puru Rajkumar). The raid goes horribly awry, and the only survivor is ten-year-old Altaaf (Master Mohsin). Young Altaaf becomes practically catatonic after witnessing his family slaughtered at the hands of the ski-masked commandos, and he is filled with unimaginable rage. In a twist of almost soap-operatic proportions, Khan's ten-year-old son happens to die in a freak accident. Under pressure from his grieving wife Neelima (Sonali Kulkarni), Khan agrees to adopt the young boy. When Altaaf eventually discovers the man he calls "father" is the one responsible for the death of his family, he runs away from home.

Chopra then advances the story ten years, and we find Altaaf (the too-good-looking-to-be-a-terrorist Hrithik Roshan) willingly serving under a darkly over-the-top Muslim terrorist known as Hilal (Jackie Shroff), a man who literally has to hold his own head on. With his undying hatred for Khan, the story, in part, becomes a traditional vengeance play, with the two men occasionally squaring off as adversaries.

What separates not only Chopra's film, but "Bollywood" projects in general, from mainstream Hollywood fare, is the completely unexpected and uncharacteristic musical segments that pepper the action. Main characters will break into song when you least expect it, and many of the sequences are as slickly produced as a music video; witness the incredibly hypnotic Bhumbro scene, lip-synched by the stunning Preity Zinta, which becomes a swirling tapestry of bright colors, beautiful people and a percussion-heavy dance beat. Imagine Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber breaking into a tune in Die Hard, and I think you'll get the idea. This technique is a little jarring at first, but by the third or fourth song the shock value wore off, and I could enjoy the songs and how they added some touching dramatic depth to some of the characters.

This is a world of Sikhs, Hindis, and Muslims all struggling, often vainly, to survive together. The obvious parallels to current events give this film a genuine surge of relevancy.

By the way, I can't get the song Bhumbro out of my head.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Mission Kashmir is presented in a sharp 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Image detail is excellent, with really not much to complain about at all. Colors are bright, though the overall film tends to rely on a steady undercurrent of a deep golden hue. The scene where Preity Zinta performs the Bhumbro song is a burst of contrasting bright colors that is reproduced perfectly. Black levels are solid, and shadow delineation is strong. There was some minor shimmer in spots, but not to distraction.


Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
Hindi, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The preferred choice here is the 5.1 Dolby Digital track in the film's original Hindi. Rear channel activity is minimal, but the fronts really come alive with some excellent directional imaging. Dialogue is well-mixed, and the musical numbers sound deep and full-bodied.

A badly dubbed English 5.1 track is also provided, and the voices are incredibly stiff and do not match the actors at all.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lagaan, Ghandi, Lawrence Of Arabia
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Sadly, not much in the extras column other than a quartet of regionally-themed trailers (Mission Kashmir, Lagaan, Gandhi, Lawrence of Arabia). The 157-minute film is cut into 28 chapters, and features subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai.

I think Columbia TriStar has done a great disservice to Western audiences by not providing more background info on Chopra and the Bollywood phenomenon.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Expand your horizons tonight. I insist. Chopra's terrorist-themed action/love story film is at times familiar, and at others remarkably alien, at least to our Bruckheimer/Bay-sanitized eyes. The runtime is a tad unwieldy (clocking in at 157 minutes), but this was easily one of the most enjoyably memorable films I've seen in awhile.



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