Like Waar, Phantom only provides momentary adrenaline to reactionary patriots

Published: September 3, 2015

he movie hasn’t given any thoughtful message regarding the rational behind dealing with terrorism, rather it’s more of a revenge and honour affair. PHOTO: TWITTER (@localaddress)

Kabir Khan is a well-known and renowned Bollywood director and it’s pretty clear by now that he is not interested in directing and producing ‘masala movies’. Since his directional debut, Kabul Express in 2006, he has made five films and there’s been a geo-political angle in all of them.

Phantom is the latest movie directed by Kabir Khan. The film has created way too much controversy due to its subject matter, the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Additionally, the time of release hasn’t aided the movie either, keeping in mind the rising tensions along the Line of Control (Loc).

The basic background of the movie revolves around a covert operation commissioned by RAW, which requires killing all the convicted and alleged perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The mission is carried out by a disgraced former officer of the Indian Army, Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan).

The movie begins with the RAW headquarters in focus. A meeting between senior officials is interrupted by a junior officer, who takes the liberty to suggest a covert operation against terrorists in Pakistan. After a go ahead from the head of RAW, Daniyal, who is rejected by his family and is living in solitude, is convinced that if he carries out this operation, it will definitely restore his dignity and honour. The movie then unfolds, showcasing Saif Ali Khan on a killing spree in the UK, US, Syria and finally, in Pakistan, killing all the terrorists RAW wanted him to eliminate.

Photo: Phantom Facebook page

The Phantom team should have known that such an idea and storyline would garner a lot of negative attention from across the border. Therefore, in order to rein in viewers and success, the team should have been more sensitive towards the audience, focused on viewers who watch movies for the content, and those who are not offended by the topic or issue at hand, but unfortunately, there were quite a few glitches in the story line and the presentation turned out to be a disappointment.

For instance, killing an already sentenced terrorist in a US prison, depicting a stereotyped ultra-conservative urban populace in Pakistan where most of the males are wearing prayer caps all the time, and the depiction of Lahori weddings is also quite perplexing. Furthermore, it is mind-boggling as to how they manage to flee from Lahore to Karachi by road in just 10 hours.

Photo: Phantom Facebook page

This is Kabir Khan’s second consecutive movie, after the Box Office hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan, in which he has showcased Pakistan intricately but failed to grasp the true essence and picture of it. Most of the people who are well-acquainted with the ground realities of Pakistan would smirk at the ignorance of the director’s portrayal of Pakistan.

Photo: Phantom Facebook page

The stance held by the actor and director regarding Phantom is that the movie is not anti-Pakistan, rather anti-terrorism. Although, if the movie is showcasing Saif on the hunt for Pakistani terrorists, this overrides the director’s stance and automatically implies that Pakistan is a facilitator of terrorism.

Trying to appease both parties, namely Pakistan and India, is impossible.

Another alarming aspect this movie has highlighted is the subconscious glorification of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), simply with the use of reverse psychology.

The movie is an amalgam of fictional and non-fictional characters and events. The reach and power of all those non-fictional characters shown in the film will only consolidate their invincibility. Had Zero Dark Thirty been made before the Abbottabad operation, it would have only inflated the prowess of Osama Bin Laden.

As for acting, Saif has done justice to his role whereas Katrina Kaif’s character, Nawaz Mistry, is quite confusing. Her character has been shown as someone being influential yet naïve, and even emotional in her professional resolutions. Katrina’s acting lacked depth; the audience is subjected to the same old superficial expressions.

Photo: Phantom Facebook page

Surprisingly, Phantom doesn’t include a long list of songs like your usual Bollywood movies. There are only three songs out of which two seem like space fillers, while the third one, Afghan Jalebi, was the only song that stood out and had a catchy tune.

The movie hasn’t given any thoughtful message regarding the rational behind dealing with terrorism, rather it’s more of a revenge and honour affair. Phantom, like Waar, can only provide momentarily adrenaline rushes to the reactionary and hyper patriots.

Waleed Rathore

Waleed Rathore

The author is an engineer with interest in music and movies.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Queen

    Arslan Naseer of Comics by Arslan has rightly said and I quote: “Dear makers of the Phantom Movie, would it be fair for us to make a movie on Rape Victims that has all the rapists hailing from India and then go around claiming that Indians shouldn’t be pissed, cause we didn’t say all Indians are rapists?”Recommend

  • Syed Abdul Samad

    Well there is big difference between timing of release and story of both films, when Waar was released I can’t recall any tension between Pakistan and India as presently we have and also Waar was not based on specific reality based event, but Phantom have every thing against Pakistan… please do listen to dialogs and story and try to be a Pakistani Journalist, we don’t want neutral(Indian) Journalist.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    Phantom is doing decent business in India. That is what the producers really care about, to turn a profit. Given the subject, A ban in Pakistan was expected. The coverage in Pakistan media is just free publicity. If you think any of these controversies were unexpected, you are underestimating Bollywood. Bollywood is about making money, not solving Indo-Pak problems.Recommend

  • abhi

    How did you see this movie?Recommend

  • Sumaira Habib

    Dear writer please don’t compare phantom with waar… if you know the realityRecommend

  • Danyal

    Except Waar was actually a good movie.Recommend

  • Rishabh Jain

    its a flop in india, unlike bajrangi. Hyper nationalism sucks.Recommend

  • RameshHeg

    The only difference is Phantom is based on facts and Waar based on delusional fantasies. Can you name some Indian terrorists who came to Lahore or Karachi train station or hotel and shot dead Pakistani civilians??! The level of animosity displayed by so many Pakistanis should lay to rest a big myth held by many Indians (still!!!) that only a “minority” of Pakistanis support terrorism on Indian civilians.

    A pakistani national Kasab was caught alive with machine gun, the pakistani “American” Hadley is cooling his heels in US jail, the Mumbai terrorist attack planners Hafiz and Lakhvi are roaming free in Pakistan. None of these seem to bother Pakistanis! A movie taken based on these facts is very disturbing. There you go! “Peace loving” Pakistanis for the whole world to see!.Spinning yarns of lies trying to find equivalency between Indians and Pakistanis. Recommend

  • wb

    Bang on. I agree with everything.

    But in the end you can’t help but see stupid South Asians (both Indian and Pakistani and others) turning crap into a crapfest.Recommend

  • KING

    Arvind rathore of Pheonix by Arvind has rightly said and I quote;”Dear makers of the WAAR Movie,would it be fair for us to make a movie on Rape victims of Kasur and the rapists hailing from pakistan and then go around claiming that Pakistanis shouldn t be pissed, cause we didnt say all pakistanis are rapists?”Recommend

  • Anwaar

    really ?! .. the only thing good in waar was its action … otherwise it had sucky storyline, overacting and a villain that was unable to leave an impression on us…Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Would you need 4 male witnesses to make the movie so as to avoid stoning the heroine for adulteryRecommend

  • ravi

    Rape n other social problems are issues which India will tackle at its domestic level.
    Pakistan cannot in anyway contribute in these issues.

    Without diverting attention the moot point of Phantom as a movie has been open n blatant attack on Mumbai which Pakistan has shrugged off.


  • ravi

    Yes Daniyal is the name if Saif in the movieRecommend

  • adeel

    I agree. but would add that “Waar was a good attempt by novices while Phantom is a bad attempt by professionals”.Recommend

  • Navneet

    Phantom has done business of about 60 cr rupees so far. Waar hardly touched 40 cr and continues to be touted as landmark, phenomenal, monumental blah blah with every actor connected to it taking pains to bash India since then. Nobody even talks about these guys in India. Apart from the reality that the Phantom is based on a true event – Mumbai tragedy is a true one and it doesn’t seem to be a pin prick to most respondents here, it does more than play on some jingoistic patriotic sentiments, the way the author has portrayed it. If every movie about terrorism starts hurting you guys and becomes ‘anti-pak’, just think what that means.. But then of course, honest reflection is the hallmark of only some! Btw, the numbers I quoted need further correction. Phantom was quoted in INR. While Waar is PKR…which makes it abt 40% of Phantoms revenues. And Phantom isn’t a hit and is unlikely to be. Nor is it considered especially remarkable movie, although I would say a good attempt on this sordid topic.Recommend

  • Navneet

    Lets forget about comparisons. Lets ring in data. Phantom is not considered a hit…far from it. Waar was a mega hit in Pak. Great. Ever since ‘superstar’ Shaan has been known mostly for bashing anything remotely Indian, moreso Indian movies. One would have thought he would have become magnanimous. But no…here is someone who rebukes his own junior colleagues for crossing the border to work. Saif on the other hand made a one line statement, frankly its surprising that its such a surprise to everyone. And then says he;s sad to be the face of anti-Pak feeling. That’s it.
    Now the numbers – Phantom 60 cr INR. No way a hit, not a flop though. Waar 40 cr, Megahit. amazing , record breaker! Oh wait…that was in PKR…so now the real business of waar is 40% of Phantom! Guys..jaago. When a country is big, try not to find equivalence in everything..but genuine equity and relationship,,,and learn!Recommend

  • abhi

    you can go ahead and make a movie. Infact bollywood is already making a movie on this incident.Recommend

  • Sid

    Lol phantom is a 100 cr film while war was 15cr…waar was based on reality too..india funding terrorist orginisations in pakistan is a well known presence of over 6lac terrorist in kashmir is not hidden either….waar business was 250% while phantom is a washout..wont even get its investment back…india is a nation where 28 states are fighting for freedom..solve them first n thn talk about Pakistan.Recommend

  • ajeet

    We Indians would like the Indian government to fund more inside Pakistan. The 28 states in India are busy making money and India has increased in Size after freedom, unlike Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ali

    The same Kasab who said “Bhagwan will not forgive me” and he said in an accent which not remotely punjabi or Urdu when apparently he is from Punjab. That aside don’t lecture Pakistan who should be roaming free and who should be in be in jail, when India has a terrorist and Mass Murderer as its Prime Minister.Recommend

  • netizen2010

    Lies get defeated. Eventually.Recommend

  • Manish B

    So you watched the movie?? I am an Indian and yet to see phantom (waiting for it to come on national television, sony, colors or star plus). Why was all the fuss when you know you would watch phantom???.Recommend

  • raushan kumar

    I am an Indian and I truely agree with your thoughts, India and Pakistan issues can’t be solved with adrenaline rush but this actually need some sensible reasoned decisions… afterall we are brothers… :)Recommend