The Tashkent Files Review: Vivek Agnihotri’s Film Is An Eye-Opener, But That’s About It

The Tashkent Files examines the mysteries around ex-PM Lal Bahadur Shastri's death after he signed a treaty to resolve the India-Pakistan war of 1965.

Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakraborty and Shweta Basu Prasad in The Tashkent Files

Lal Bahadur Shastri traveled to Tashkent to sign an agreement, The Tashkent Declaration, between India and Pakistan to resolve the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Shastri, the then Prime Minister of India, signed the peace treaty on January 10, 1966, and died the very next day in the capital city of Uzbekistan. Shastri’s death was caused by a heart attack, as per the official word. However, several mysteries mask the matter. Vivek Agnihotri’s film The Tashkent Files attempts to take a closer and detailed look at each of these conspiracy theories and examine the bigger picture.

Ragini aspires to be a political journalist and inclines towards sensationalism. In her pursuit of a claim to fame scoop, she receives an anonymous tip hinting Shastri’s death as a case of villainy. Her article on a foul play during the ex-PM’s passing away creates an uproar. So much so that the Indian government puts a committee in-charge of re-investigating Shastri’s death. Ragini too is a part of this committee, which includes elite historians, former judges, philanthropists, politicians, etc. Now, as the panel starts re-examining the matter at hand, Ragini finds clues, thereby leading to intermittent breakthroughs in the case. But the question remains – are these hints a trick or treat?

Watch the trailer here to know more:

Agnihotri has presented the many truths surrounding Shastri’s death case. He uses both fact and fiction to revisit histories. Besides the late-Prime Minister’s passing away, The Tashkent Files makes a brilliant point about power play in media. It is subtly put forth in many scenes but clearly established only when a disturbed Raagini asks her source a simple question – what was the point? To make an issue. The underlying theme reveals that the truth somehow got lost in the noise created by the shocking incident.

A still from the sets of The Tashkent Files
(Source: Instagram)

The committee, on many occasions, reminds us of an old classic. The members often debate, argue, complain, agree, disagree, change their stance and vote for and against. Ragini is fresh blood amongst these seasoned personalities. The discussion room gives us a jury feel, but the chase game kind jumbles it more than making it thrilling. The tension sort of gets toned down every time the place is changed. The music and background score stand tall in individuality, but don’t necessarily complement the scenes.

Veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty shines as the unethical politician with some of the best lines in the script. Shweta Basu Prasad, as the protagonist Ragini, goes from being ambitious to vulnerable and without a golden mean. No wonder you will find a certain bias in a few frames.

Shastri led a far more interesting life than the cumulative interest circling his death. Just saying.

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