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Hansal Mehta’s New Film Omertà Showcases A Terrorist’s Improbable Life And Raises A Crucially Unpleasant Question

Published on 13 March, 2018 at 3:00 pm By

Hansal Mehta is a National Film Award-winning director who started his career by directing the television show “Khana Khazana” in 1993. He shifted to the silver screen with his first feature film “Jayate.” However, he gained nationwide popularity with the film “Shahid” starring Rajkummar Rao.


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Rajkummar Rao is an actor who gained immense popularity among the fans for his strong acting skills. This National Award Winner actor is known for his edgy acting in different controversial films. He played some of the memorable roles in the movies “Newton,” “Shahid,” “Citylights,” and “Love Sex Aur Dhokha.” His fame is not only restricted to playing character roles but also established his position as a romantic hero.

The pair of Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao has always presented Indian audiences with some of the most critically acclaimed films. With the able direction of Mehta and heart winning performance of Rao, “Citylights” and “Shahid” made a mark in the mind of the audiences.

This duo is back with their new film “Omertà”. This film also carries the curious storytelling trait of Mehta along with emotion-inducing acting of Rao. This is a 2017 film that was screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. The film is scheduled to release on 20th April 2018.

This film is being considered as Mehta’s ‘most explosive’ work till now. It traces the improbable life of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. He is the British Terrorist of Pakistani descent involved in multiple high-profile terrorist cases and presently sentenced to death.

He was involved in the 1999 hijacking of Air India flight IC-814, kidnapping of westerners in India, and execution of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

Recently, the director tweeted the pictures of the film and it created quite a stir. In the poster, Rajkummar Rao as Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh is seen kneeling in prayer while wearing a skull cap. His image is surrounded by a target with half-visible words all around.



In another image, Rajkummar Rao is seen praying with the skull cap and a series of words written on the background wall. Among which the words “kidnapping of American” and “9/11” are prominently visible.

Both the images have one similarity. The tranquil look on the face of the character raises the question how such a cold-blooded terrorist can pray with such determination. Needless to say, Mehta is set out to make a very strong point with these pictures that are filled with subtle references.

The filmmaker said that Omerta is not just a film but it’s a portrayal of state-sponsored terrorism that manipulates young minds. He stated:

“‘Omerta’ exposes state-sponsored terrorism and how it manipulates young minds into believing a sordid interpretation of Jihad. Terror is all about power,”

Not arguing about the truthfulness of Mehta’s comment on state-sponsored terrorism but the life story of Sheikh might give you a point of understanding.

Born in London in 1973, Sheikh’s father was a successful businessman. Young Omar used to study in one of the most expensive private schools in East London where he claimed to have faced racism and bullying. When he was 13, his family moved back to Lahore where he was enrolled on Aitchison College but later thrown out. Then he returned to London to complete his schooling.

At the age of 19, he was a first-year undergraduate student at London School of Economics. At that time, he traveled to Bosnia to join an Islamic aid group. Soon he dropped out to join militant training camp in Afghanistan. Being a prolific character he was always aware of himself and executed one act of terrorism after another with maximum impact.

Whether or not he is a shining example of state-sponsored terrorism is a matter of debate. However, this film brings up the chance to look at the other side of the story through an “expected” powerful narrative and acting.

Also, when asked about the expected reaction of the film, Mehta said:

“Packed screenings at film festivals around the world were met with shocked silence and often anger. I am expecting similar reactions from the audience to this shocking tale,”


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We will be back with a commentary on the trailer of the film “Omertà” that is scheduled to be released on 14th March 2018.

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