Released on a meager 250 screens across India, The Tashkent Files opened to mostly negative reviews from the critics. However, with passing days, it’s screen presence grew significantly and the reports from the audience were majorly positive, with the film successfully celebrating 100 running days at the box office. Focusing on the sensitive topic of the death of India’s second Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, the film explores a different angle about the whole incident which it claims has been left unexplored and unattended. We have tried to review the movie unbiased of our thoughts about this critical issue, and here we are only discussing the cinematic elements.
The film’s greatest strength is its gripping script which is dense with twists, turns, and revelations, making the viewer stick to the seat. Vivek Agnihotri has been successful in gathering a strong ensemble cast and ensuring that the film does not become a documentary talking about a sensitive issue, preferably a movie with a tight screenplay. Many of the characters, particularly Ragini who transforms from publishing fake news to uncovering perhaps the highest truth, are wonderfully crafted with no distinction of black and white. Performances by all the actors are excellent and believable, but Shweta Basu Prasad and Mithun Chakraborty stand out throughout the film.
The film’s background music is good for the most part but becomes unnecessary and mismatching in some instances. Its biggest setback, however, is the lack of focus on what could have been essential character portrayals by actors such as Pankaj Tripathi, Prakash Belawadi, and Naseeruddin Shah. The Tashkent Files also instills an opinion very strongly, which may be uncomfortable for some of the viewers. But this also gives a strong social message to the audience, who are left to think about the history they have been told and taught ever since.
Set on a controversial topic, people have majorly judged the film based on their political bias. But as a cinema lover, we recommend watching this film not only because of the gripping plot but also because it questions raises some valid questions, providing food for thought.