Prema Baraha ostensibly tells the tale of two journalists from rival news organisations forced to work together as they cover the Kargil conflict. But really, other than for the fact that all the characters keep mentioning Kargil, there’s nothing to give us a sense of what exactly these “intrepid TV reporters” are covering.
After all, if we were to go by what Prema Baraha – directed by Arjun Sarja and starring Chandan Kumar and Aishwarya Arjun – tells us, the Kargil war largely involved soldiers on opposing sides lining up a couple of hundred yards opposite each other and firing off hundreds of bullets. Besides some stock footage tacked on to give the sense that there’s a larger conflict between two countries, the film has nothing to really offer on what went on at Kargil.
The conflict simply becomes an excuse to show off Chandan’s heroism, as he leaps into hails of bullets to save an injured soldier on the frontlines, and at another point actually punches tri-coloured paint onto an enemy’s forehead. It also serves as an excuse for Aishwarya to deliver a fashionably patriotic speech about soldiers’ martyrdom.
This is because the conflict is only a foil for a done-to-death love story, where the pressure to honour family obligations collides with the (un)predictable ways of love. So, Aishwarya’s character Madhu, who loses her parents early in life is set to marry the son of her father’s business partner. Since she’s been practically raised by the wife of the business partner (Suhasini), she finds it almost impossible to say ‘no’. In Kargil, she falls in love with Chandan’s character Sanjay, but her engagement stands in the way.
There’s not all that much to be said about the acting performances in the film, with veteran actors like Suhasini and Prakash Raj given predictably sentimental roles that leave little scope for nuance, and the lead couple turning out formulaic performances.
And while there are a couple of exciting stunt sequences in the first half of the film, particularly one chase sequence through a tightly packed residential colony, the military scenes are at times comically bad. Together with a hodge-podge of not particularly funny comedy scenes, Prema Baraha turns out to be a mediocre masala film.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.