You are a practicing medical doctor working in London, UK. Your family is back home in Mumbai, India. You have three sisters, and a brother, and they and your parents want to see you. So you get your tickets, you call them giving them your schedule so they can pick up you at the Mumbai airport. When you arrive there’s no sign of them. You call the house and the phone rings, and rings, and rings, but no one answers. Well what can you do? You head outside to look for a taxi. While you are standing curbside, two men on a motorcycle pull up.
“You are Dr. Aamir aren’t you?”, they ask. When you nod affirmatively they toss you a cell phone, which starts to ring. They say, “Take the call…” and drive off.
This is the beginning of a superb 2008 film called Aamir directed by 1st time director Rajkumar Gupta and starring 1st time film lead actor Rajeev Khandelwal. The voice on the phone instructs Dr. Aamir to look for Taxi 8866 which should be approaching him, any second. Sure enough, here comes the cab. Dr. Aamir protests – this must be a mistake, you’ve confused me with some else, who are you?
The caller proceeds to identify not only Dr. Aamir, but each one of his family. He further instructs that Dr. Aamir must follow to the letter each and every one of the instructions he will be given – if he ever wants to see his family alive again.
When the stunned Dr. Aamir doesn’t get into the cab quick enough, the cab takes off with his luggage, which had been loaded into the cab by those pesky motorcycle guys who we now see hadn’t actually gone anywhere. Dr. Aamir has to chase down the cab on foot.
The high-tension thriller has only just begun. Dr. Aamir is told that his family is at risk. He needs to go to a slum neighborhood and locate a communications store, where he will be given a number to call. And he is to write down everything that he is told. The call goes to Karachi, Pakistan.
Then Dr. Aamir must then go to a hellish building without plumbing where he will be given further instructions in writing.
The neighborhoods get more and more seedy. We are literally going through the rank underbelly of Mumbai formerly Bombay. Only the places we go to will never show up in a travel video or a travel brochure. Where ever Aamir goes he is looked at suspiciously. After all he is a well dressed man, and he is clearly out of place in these dark and dank, narrow, back streets.
Soon Dr. Aamir is terrified, just as we are. The script keeps us as much in the dark as it does the protagonist. The music is sinister and threatening, which by itself is scary. We don’t know any of the why or who about the caller. Aamir is being lead around like a puppet on a string. Only he’s not a puppet. He is a living breathing person like the rest of us, and just like the denizens of these hellish neighborhoods. But even as the suspense grows for Dr. Aamir and us, those people whose paths we cross are living their lives unaware of Aamir’s problem.
Just as we live our own lives mostly unaware aware of how a good part of the world functions down at the local level.
The director has done a superb job of amping up the pressure on Dr. Aamir. He has become entangled in the circumstances of others, whose agendas are not only different than his, but terrifying to say the least.
I think this film is provocative, exciting, and thrilling. Yes there are some twists and turns that don’t make a lot of sense, and some that will make you discard some elements of logic. But by the time you get through the shattering climax of the film, you will have really enjoyed that 100 minute thrill ride that you just experienced.
Below is a Youtube teaser for the film. This trailer doesn’t have English subtitles, but the DVD does as does the Netflix version of the film.