"Omerta" means a code of silence about a criminal activity amongst the Mafiosi.
"Omerta"is a rare gem in alternate cinema universe of Indian films. Based on the life of the dreaded terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who was involved in various terror attacks across the globe. Purely from an academic perspective the choice of making a film on this Muti layered and yet intense person is itself a winning strategy by the director-actor duo of veteran Hansal Mehta and Raj Kumar Rao.
Omerta is a genuine attempt to enter the mind of evolved evil. Omar Sheikh is possibly the only terrorist based in Pakistan with an educational background from London School Of Economics. Sharp, Witty, Convincing and Good Looking, he is the epitome of what the best education and money can do for a human being. Omar who lived in a leafy part of London for most of his adult life is a different species altogether. He is recruited by an uncle at a local mosque who convinces him of the atrocities done against the Muslims in Bosnia. It is here where one sees how youngsters are recruited and are given motivation to take a serious career in terror.
The Thinking Man's Terror story
Omerta portrays Omar Sheikh as a champion of the alternate solution. Alternate Solution ie. Terrorism is the refuge of the radicalised youth and the film very skilfully gives a ringside view of the thought process of a terrorist mindset. In the movie, Omar sees a live suicide in front of himself to see the level of fanaticism of his colleagues. There are no large crowds chanting "Jihad" but here is a solo operator who changes has a chameleon like quality of camouflaging with the environment he is operating in. In his kidnapping of foreign tourists in Delhi, Omar exhibits charisma and panache to befriend Americans, Czechs and British. Its this cool headed style of work is what gets him the job he wants to do. The film chronicles his life through his various terror strikes and how his personal life shaped through this. Omerta also makes the bold move with Omar not having any love interest in his life other than his wife who comes into his life at a later stage. This is largely due to his sharp focus on his mission.
There are passing mentions where Omar is ridiculed by police officials for looking like a Muslim. He keeps and nurses his anger over a period of time.
Questions asked by Mehta in the films are poignant.
Why do affluent and highly educated people like Omar Sheikh join terror outfits? Why are minorities treated badly across the world? How Does the state and executive incubate terror masterminds? What are the inner demons of a terrorist? Omerta tries to answer these questions..
Omar Sheikh : A Different Terrorist
For the lack of a better word, Omar Sheikh is an "experiemental" terrorist who went from an above average Londoner to a dreaded criminal. Unlike other terrorists who were born in absolute poverty and picked the gun to feed themselves, he is the exact opposite. Omar leaves a comfortable life as a student in London School Of Economics to protest the killings of Muslims in Bosnia. He is possibly one of the handful who went from becoming a student to a protester/activist to a terrorist and cold blooded murderer. He was on the cusp of major terror strikes against India at regular intervals. He was in jail in Ghaziabad, India for over 5 years where learnt a lot from Indians. He was serving a sentence when IC 814 flight was hijacked and Omar was on the list of the three prisoners released demanded by Hizbul Mujahideen who were the orchestrators of it. He came back from the dead so to speak.....Omar is also a calm and smooth operator who rarely looses his cool.
The Forrest Gump Analogy of Omar Sheikh :-
In the book and film "Forrest Gump", Author portrays protagonist Forrest as a simple American who is present at all major historical events as a spectator of sorts by a sheer co incidence. Omar Sheikh like Forrest was involved in The Delhi Kidnapping Of Foreign Tourists, IC 814, Mumbai 26/11, Journalist Daniel Pearl's Murder and so on.....It might be a weird co incidence but the film focuses on this timeline of events.
Raj Kummar Rao's resurgence :-
Rao who made his debut in LSD, has crafted a niche for character centric roles like Trapped,Newton, Shahid, Aligarh etc. Raj Kumar's parallel in Hollywood can be Paul Giamatti . They both choose basic human stories, low budget films, a few dependent directors like Hansal Mehta who has directed Rao in 5 films now and both have a high quality collaboration strategy. This is Rao's first major villain outing and he scores convincingly. The scene in which he roughs up (and more) Daniel Pearl is bone chilling. At the end of the movie when he is going to prison, he smiles back in (a Jokerish way) at the reporters. This makes his performance palatable. He has successfully invented himself as an actor without a prefix or suffix.
Final Analysis :-
"Omerta" is arguably the best terrorist focused movie to come out of Bollywood in a long time. It will make you feel uncomfortable and in the end will give you its message effectively
Baniya Meter :-
Baniya Meter gives "Omerta" 7 out of 10