Handout still from “India’s Most Wanted”.

In Rajkumar Gupta’s “India’s Most Wanted” a ragtag bunch of officers embarks on an unlikely mission – to nab the man they call “India’s Osama”, a dangerous villain holed up across the border. The film appears to be based on the capture of Yasin Bhatkal, who ran a militant group called the Indian Mujahideen that was thought to be responsible for several bomb blasts in India.

Arjun Kapoor plays Prabhat, an inscrutable intelligence officer who wants nothing but to serve his country. His five subordinate officers are shown as pot-bellied, clumsy and scatterbrained – making them come across more like a group of bank clerks.

When Prabhat gets a tip-off that a notorious terror accused is hiding in Nepal, his superior is skeptical. The head office in Delhi refuses to sanction his trip, but Prabhat is so driven that he convinces his team members to make the treacherous trip across the border anyway.

Another in a long line of Indian thrillers that attempt to re-create successful espionage and intelligence operations, “India’s Most Wanted” starts off well, but the story tapers off. The action scenes show up late and underwhelm. Prabhat and his team spend too much time running around in circles, and Gupta is too generous with red herrings and convenient coincidences to make this a believable tale.

Rival intelligence agencies are shown as possessing little or no intelligence. In one instance, Pakistani spies are shown as tracking down their Indian adversaries by physically checking number plates of every car in Nepal to see if they match.

Gupta throws in real-life shots of bomb blasts in India to emphasise the importance of the mission, but they can’t match the story’s sluggish pace. A deadpan Kapoor is ineffective as a master spy on a mission of a lifetime, putting in an one-tone, monotonous performance as Prabhat that weighs down an already sagging film.

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