The unfortunately named Blank marks the debut of yet another young man with the good fortune of having been born into a Bollywood family. Karan Kapadia, son of costume designer Simple Kapadia and nephew of Dimple Kapadia, shares the screen with Sunny Deol in a loud and shouty thriller littered with bombs and damp squibs.
Kapadia plays Hanif, who is found by the Anti-Terrorism Squad with a bomb drilled into his chest. If it goes off, so will 24 other bombs in Mumbai. This compels ATS chief Diwan (Deol) to puff and pant through the city’s slums and streets. Diwan’s crew, including characters played by Karanvir Sharma and Ishita Dutta, similarly keep their waistlines trim as they hare around in pursuit of a mean-eyed terrorist with a huge fake beard and a penchant for making messianic statements.
Although Blank comes with a rider that it doesn’t intend to single out a specific community, its Islamophobia is undeniable. The terrorist, Maqsud (Jameel Khan), leads an organisation called the Tehreer-e-Hind. Is Hanif innocent, as he claims to be, or is he one of Maqsud’s finest recruits? The movie isn’t exactly strong on suspense.
Directed by Behzad Khambata with a screenplay by Pranav Adarsh, Blank has the plotting heft and production values of an episode on the popular television series CID. The run-time of 111 minutes is far too generous, and the filmmakers attempt to fill the void by getting their characters to walk rapidly from one corner to the next yelling “Move!” and “Clear” into their walkie-talkies.
Sunny Deol, a veteran at saving the nation, swings his giant fists and yells on command. Karan Kapadia is a blank canvas onto which little more than a dream of a Bollywood career can be projected. There is just about enough material here for a conventional yarn about Islamist terrorists with nefarious plans for India. The rest is the equivalent of firing blanks.
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