May 23, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Sankalp Reddy
Hindi with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in 1971, in India and Pakistan, the action film “IB 71” features an all-Asian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.
Culture Clash: A heroic Intelligence Bureau (IB) agent in India gets involved in saving an airplane hijacked by Kashmir terrorists and thwarting an airspace attack from a Kashmiri militant.
Culture Audience: “IB 71” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a very fabricated and ludicrous story about the real-life Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
Even by low standards of how ridiculous action movies can be, IB 71 mishandles its depiction of real-life espionage events in 1971. If you believe this movie, then you have to believe one IB agent has a superhero level of fight skills and defense plans. It’s a 117-minute movie that barely has enough substance for a seven-minute film. Most of “IB 71” looks like a sloppy combination of revisionist history and pandering fantasies about what led up to the real-life Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
Written and directed by Sankalp Reddy, “IB 71” (which is set in 1971) is yet another loud and bloated action film that quickly becomes repetitive because it doesn’t have much to say that’s interesting and just wants to show people fighting and yelling at each other. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) agent “hero” from India is named Dev Jammwal (played by Vidyut Jammwal), who has the personality of a spent bullet, but viewers are supposed to believe he’s extraordinary in how he can single-handedly avert an international crisis. The movie’s scenes go back and forth between India and Pakistan.
An early scene in the movie shows Dev at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Delhi, India. Dev tells officials that the prison camps in India have had at least 10 runaways recently. Dev’s boss is N.S. Avasti (played by Anupam Kher), who is told that the Pakistanis are too busy kiling each other to be much of a threat to India. Dev has a sidekick IB partner named Sangram (played by Suvrat), who is as generic as generic can be.
Meanwhile, the IB is investigating Maqbool Bhat, a Kashmiri separatist, who is said to be planning some type of air raid in 10 days, with China being involved. (China has been helping guard East Pakistan.) N.S. Avasti and other IB officials are told that Maqbool Bhat only cares about gaining control in Kashmir, not India or Pakistan. And so begins the countdown for Dev to figure out what to do about this likely raid.
The movie then gets caught up in Dev being the hero for an airplane hijacking committed by two Kashmiri separatists who are followers of Maqbool Bhat, the leader of the National Liberation Front. The hijackers have taken a small plane (with about 20 to 25 passengers) hostage because they want 36 imprisoned National Liberation Front members to be set free from their prisons in India. These bumbling terrorists don’t know at the time of the hijacking that the airplane pilot is an IB agent named Dev Jammwal.
The hijackers are cousins Qasim Qureshi (played by Vishal Jethwa) and Ashfaq Qureshi (played by Faizan Khan), who make a lot of stupid mistakes. Qasim is the younger cousin. He looks like he’s barely out of high school. And he tries to make up for his youth and inexperience with arrogance and having a bad temper. Qasim gets very angry if anyone acts like he’s too young to be a leader. Ashfaq is a dimwitted follower who doesn’t really question what Qasim says or does.
“IB 71” just becomes a back-and-forth convoluted slog of Dev handling the hijacking and the countdown to the planned air raid, as if he’s the only person in charge of the IB. Everything about “IB 71” looks fake and ill-conceived. There’s really no point in watching bombastic junk like this unless you want to see terrible acting in a soulless and idiotic action film.
Reliance Entertainment released “IB 71” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on May 12, 2023.