Arshad Warsi: ‘Irada’ is an eco-thriller that ventures into the whodunit space

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It is called the “Cancer Train”, christened thus by locals because it transports scores of cancer patients from Bathinda in Punjab to the city of Bikaner, Rajasthan, for treatment. Available media reports suggest that the surge in cancer cases in Bathinda is a result of the uncontrolled use of pesticides by the region’s farmers. This week’s Hindi film release Irada points us in another direction: groundwater pollution caused by local industry.

For red-flagging an unnerving issue alone, Irada deserves kudos. Director Aparnaa Singh’s film is about an explosion in a plant owned by an influential businessman called Paddy Sharma (Sharad Kelkar) who derives his power from the funds he supplies to the state’s ruling party. Chief Minister Ramandeep Braitch (Divya Dutta) is in his pocket and agrees to hush up the motive behind the blast, since it might have something to do with the waste disposal methods practised at the factory. She calls in NIA officer Arjun Mishra (Arshad Warsi) to do the job for her. Also in the picture are the writer Parbjeet Walia (Naseeruddin Shah) and journalist Maya Singh (Sagarika Ghatge) whose activist boyfriend disappears under mysterious circumstances.