A whimpering and simpering Vidyut Jammwal is just no fun!
Just like an Emraan Hashmi film without a kiss or many, especially in the years immediately following him going Bheegey honth tere, was no fun, a Vidyut Jammwal outing without the man slicing and dicing his adversaries with one swift move or many, just doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping.
After all, Vidyut has earned his (acting) chops by chopping through everything and everyone that comes in his way on screen. That doesn’t happen in Khuda Haafiz well until the end, and the 100 minutes before that plod on so predictably that by the time it gets there, you can barely keep your eyes open. And that’s not because of the swirl of sand and fury that’s conjured up through a spectacularly staged Fury Road-styled chase through the desert. It’s just too little too late.
Borrowing generously from the rescue-revenge cinema trope, almost a subgenre in itself, Khuda Haafiz requires Vidyut to momentarily forget his wham-bam skills and adopt a sedate, almost helpless, body language. When his newly-wed wife goes missing in a foreign country, you see the man constantly folding his hands for help instead of using them to land a Kalaripayattu move. It’s an all-new Vidyut and while the attempt at shifting gears is commendable, we prefer the one-man mission guy we are accustomed to seeing than this common man protagonist.
The year is 2008. Sameer (Vidyut) and Nargis (Shivaleeka Oberoi) get moony-eyed over a chai pe charcha family meeting and quickly get married. A song later, director Faruk Kabir cuts to the chase, with the couple, after losing their livelihood in the wake of global recession, landing jobs in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Noman, which has apparently been left untouched by the ups and downs of the world economy. Nargis leaves first, with Sameer slated to follow, but she can barely make it out of the airport before being kidnapped. A helpless Sameer, armed with a postcode and a phone number that don’t exist, lands up in Noman. The rest of Khuda Haafiz is par for the course.
For most of Khuda Haafiz, Vidyut covers his abs under baggy clothes and puts on a perpetually pained face as he keeps imploring, “Mujhe meri Nargis chahiye”. Along the way, he meets the usual stock characters, including a friendly Pathan cab driver (played by Annu Kapoor) and a few Hindi-speaking Arab secret agents (Shiv Panditt and Aahana Kumra), who travel the spectrum between overzealous and ambiguous, to track down the kidnappers, who operate a human trafficking racket that Nargis has been sucked into. A large part of the film involves Sameer running into dead ends or getting frustrated with the slow investigation into Nargis’s disappearance before taking matters into his own hands. Even then, his action moves are limited to some clumsy and awkward roll-in-the-dust brawls. At one point, Sameer tries to get a key member of the flesh trade racket to speak up after sticking a fork into him.