CHENNAI: There have been numerous films about damsels in distress and valiant young men racing to rescue them often from the clutches of evil forces.
And Indian director Faruk Kabir’s Hindi-language drama on Disney+ Hotstar, “Khuda Haafiz,” weaves its story around the same theme.
However, in this movie the male lead, well-known martial arts expert Vidyut Jammwal, is cast in a role that gives him little scope to use his fists and legs in often orchestrated fights. At least, for most of the screen time he gets.
The former hero of several “Commando” movies, Jammwal plays newlywed Sameer Chaudhary who is married to Nargis Rajput (Shivaleeka Oberoi) the daughter of a Hindu-Muslim couple chosen by his parents.
The loved-up couple settle in a small Indian city but when they lose their jobs as a result of the 2008 global recession they find themselves taking an assignment from a slimy agent to work in an Arab country, seemingly oblivious to the danger that lies ahead.
Chaudhary is uneasy when he finds out that his wife has to report for duty a few days before him and his fears are confirmed when no sooner does her plane land, she is whisked away from the airport by a gang operating a prostitution ring.
A frantic, but garbled call from Rajput to Chaudhary forces him to rush to the Arab country, where friendly Afghan taxi driver Usman (Annu Kapoor) lends a helping hand to trace his missing wife.
Help also comes from local police officers Faiz Abu Malik (Shiv Panditt) and Tameena Hamid (Aahana Kumra), and although the film’s twist comes at the end, it is fairly clear to see how the plot will pan out.
Kapoor is his usual brilliant self (as witnessed in “Vicky Donor” as a fertility doctor and “Jolly LLB 2” as a defense attorney) but some of the other acting performances are nothing to write home about.
Jammwal may be subdued, but he is wooden and cannot bring out the angst of a man whose new wife is lost and in serious danger. Oberoi does better but fails to help lift the film to an emotionally dramatic level.
“Khuda Haafiz” often seems contrived, and even Kapoor with his exceptionally moving performance can do precious little to take the plot away from its fixation with the hero.