An Indian kickboxer defeats a Pakistani kickboxer in an international tournament. But the event ends in a tragedy due to the Pakistani players intemperance. Will the peace process, initiated by the two countries lose its momentum, specially when the Indian hero's brother is determined to avenge his family, and country during a second international bout that is being held in Lahore this time?
So, the film has been reportedly banned in Pakistan? Do they have reason to do so? The truth is, Lahore may begin on a note that showcases the Pakistani sportsman (kickboxer, Mukesh Rishi and his coach, Sabyasachi Chakraborty) in a dubious light and has the young Pakistani sports psychologist (Shraddha Das) apologising to our Indian hero on behalf of her entire nation, but it ends on a strong pacifist note and perfectly fits in with the need of the hour. One which demands that the legacy of hate and the baggage of history need to be buried because the principle of an eye for an eye cannot work in international politics.
More importantly, the film does not strike a jingoistic note, despite tracing the entire trajectory of the tumultuous Indo-Pak relationship through the aggressive sport of kickboxing. The tenor of the film is sensitively restrained and low key throughout, with the story of young Virendra's (Aanaahad) journey through grief, acceptance and transcendence unfolding gently through the bone-crunching and jaw-breaking. The cricketer who turns to kickboxing to avenge his brother (Sushant Singh) is helped in his endeavours by the avuncular coach (Farouque Sheikh) of the Indian team. But more than training him in the art of kickboxing, the coach must instil the spirit of true sportsmanship in his player and redefine the concept of patriotism for the firebrand.
Lahore works due to several reasons. Firstly, because of its topicality which strikes the right note in this season when India and Pakistan are seeking a new equilibrium in their relationship. Secondly because of its narrative style which is the antithesis of nationalistic chest-beating Gadar-like films. Lahore tells a fiery story, gently and lyrically and is embellished with some great cinematography (Neelabh Kaul) and action choreography in the kickboxing sequences (Tony Ching Siu Tung). But most of all, it boasts of a stellar act by the performers with Farouque Sheikh walking away with most of your applause as the genteel Hyderabadi who must train a team of winners, despite political and bureaucratic interference.