Nothing that you come across in Shoot on Sight hasn’t been witnessed before in films – the victimized Muslim cop, Islamic extremists, terrorist attacks, racism in society, et al. But despite the conventions, what makes the movie engaging is the setting of the story in an entirely new milieu. Jag Mundhra positions his parable in England post the July 7 London bombings and establishes the fact that terrorism is a global issue and not just confined to any single country.
The fictional story is based on the shoot-on-sight orders given to the Scotland Yard department by opening fire at suspected terrorists after the July 7 attack on London. In one such incident, an English cop Marber (Ralph Ineson) guns down an innocent Muslim bystander.
Senior officer Tariq Ali (Naseeruddin Shah) who is of Pakistani origin, though born and brought up in England and married to an English woman (Greta Scacchi), is given the task to investigate Marber’s case. While Ali sees Marber as a racist, he himself is held as a soft target by the media and his seniors for being a Muslim.
Meanwhile he isn’t quite aware that his childhood friend Junaid (Om Puri) has turned into a fanatic Muslim priest and is brainwashing young minds of his community, including Ali’s nephew Zaheer (Mikaal Zulfikar).
The film depicts individual outlooks of either side with scathing sentiments. Like the English cop being interrogated justifies his act quoting “All Muslims might not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims”. On another occasion the radical priest Junaid questions Ali’s religious responsibility asking “Whether he is a Muslim first who happens to be a police officer or a police officer first who happens to be a Muslim”. Thankfully the film doesn’t endorse any of these two opinions thereby maintaining a neutral stance. Nevertheless their mention is essential to emphasize ethical corruption on both sides.
While dealing with the concerns of a victimized Muslim, director Jagmohan Mundhra doesn’t exploit the issue to gain sympathy votes from the minority community and at the same time has the decency to avoid commercial jingoism. With the London setting of this film, the usual Hindu-Muslim divide, characteristic to thematically similar Indian films takes the shape of a relatively broader drift between the Islamic and the Western World on a global level. For a change you see the city of London as a more pragmatic place compared to the fanciful image that foreign locations have in usual Bollywood fare.
The film has a straightforward storytelling approach without many surprises and qualifies for a social drama over a thriller. The climax of the film is rather predictable (and quite similar to the more recent film Dhoka having similar concerns) but the steady direction and convincing performances keep you riveted.
Naseeruddin Shah as the lead protagonist is extremely credible in his act and accent. It’s amazing how the senior actor pulls off the lead role with effortless ease. Om Puri is competent as the venom-spewing radical. Gulshan Grover gets to play a decent role after long but his character goes missing midways. Ralph Ineson smartly establishes his tricky characterization. Greta Scacchi puts in an able supporting act and even Laila Rouass gets to do more than just look beautiful. Mikaal Zulfikar is decent. – (indiatimes)