There are directors who rely on stock footage to make their films look authentic. And then there is Hansal Mehta. The maker of hard-hitting movies like Citylights, Shahid and Aligarh has gone an extra step for his next, Omerta. The movie is a gritty thriller based on terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh’s life and in a bid to be authentic, the director has purchased real life footage from a number of sources. Footage of the Kandahar attack, media footage following the 9/11 attack and other clips were acquired from a whole range of sources by Mehta’s team. “The sum spent on the footage is undisclosed, but the sources are credible,” says the director, “When it came to the film, everything had to be credible. To ensure we kept it as real as possible, we purchased actual footage. The film covers various crucial events from world history, so I had to buy these videos from different agencies. They were bought in bits and pieces through the years.”
Sheikh was a mastermind behind several terrorist attacks across the world, and Mehta’s research is also said to have unearthed links between Sheikh and Osama Bin Laden, and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
Rajkummar Rao plays the lead role and his intense look coupled with real life locations in the trailer have left the audience wanting more. The film, shot extensively in India and London, “is an exposé about state sponsored terrorism,” Mehta says.
The movie, which traces Sheikh’s journey and delves into the workings of his mind, premiered to excellent reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2017 followed by the Busan International Film Festival, and had a very successful screening as the closing film at the Mumbai Film Festival 2017. Presented by Swiss Entertainment and Karma Media, and produced by Nahid Khan, Omerta is expected to hit theaters in India on April 20.