For the second time this year, Sanjay Dutt plays a veteran of loss and grief seeking redemption by putting himself at the service of the next generation. In Sadak 2, Dutt helped a young woman expose a charlatan guru. In Torbaaz, he coaches a bunch of cute and sprightly Afghan kids to play cricket.

Nasser (Dutt) has lost his wife and son in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Years later, he reluctantly returns to the war-ravaged country to help his friend Ayesha (Nargis Fakhri) with her non-profit organisation. A bunch of irrepressible children at a refugee camp is attempting to learn how to play the sport. Among them is Baaz, a Pakistani boy who has been groomed by the terrorist Qazar (Rahul Dev) to be a suicide bomber.

Nasser’s mission is to play peacemaker between the various Afghan factions (Pashtun versus Hazara) as well as unite the Afghan and Pakistani boys into a unit. Nasser’s Lagaan-inspired experiment is a success, but then Qazar lands up to set his dastardly plan into motion.

The bat eventually connects with the ball on the pitch, but the plot is all over the place. Characterised by a series of disconnected and clumsy scenes, numerous drone’s eye-view shots of the locations (Kyrgyzstan has been dressed up as Afghanistan) and mawkish flashbacks to Nasser’s past, the Netflix film is rescued by its knee-high wonders.

Apart from Aishan Jawad Malik as Baaz, Rehan Shaikh steals the show as the scrappy Sadiq. Sounding every bit a street-smart Mumbai urchin, Sadik is unfazed by the adults surrounding him and ready for any sort of challenge. Rehan Shaikh’s winning spontaneity is about the best thing in the 132-minute movie.

Torbaaz (2020).