Ever since the promotion of 'Lanka' kick-started, there has been an emphasis on how the 'Seeta' abduction episode from 'Ramayana' has been taken and presented in today's times. In fact the film was even titled as 'Vibhishan' for a while before 'Lanka' was finalised and one expected that there would be some dramatic quotient to the film that would justify the adage of 'Ghar Ka Bhedi Lanka Dhaae'. Sadly though there is hardly any Lanka here while the Vibhishan factor too hardly comes across as convincing enough that would make one remember the mythological tale and draw references.
Prime track here is about a local gang-lord (Manoj Bajpayee) making a doctor (Tia Bajpayee) as his mistress against her will, hence trying to draw a parallel with Raavan-Seeta episode. The second track is about his love for much younger cousin brother (Arjan Bajwa) who has been presented as a Vibhishan. And then there is this third track about a community taking him heads-on with support of a cop (Yashpal Sharma).
When these three tracks are introduced at the very beginning of the film, you do expect quite a few dramatic moments ahead. Tia's disgust for Manoj, Arjan's respect for him and then the love-hate relationship between Manoj-Yashpal does make one feel that this could be one layered drama that would captivate your attention.
However after a while the film starts disintegrating and you don't quite follow the characters. While Manoj is shown as some kind of a Raavan who is ruling a Lanka here, there isn't much justification around how he acquired such powers and how he is maintaining that. On the other hand Arjan's killing of as many as seven farmers in one single night just doesn't go with the kind of soft character that he is supposed to be playing here.
Even otherwise, dramatic moments are far and few while thrilling sequences are totally missing. Now that disappoints because when a movie has a heavy title like 'Lanka', you do expect some volatile moments on screen. That doesn't happen and what just fails to establish here is a love story between Arjan and Tia here. What is totally incomprehensible though is Manoj's refusal to even talk about his so-called love for Tia and refusal to get married to her. Moreover the very fact that the film had promised to bring the episode of Vibhishan who would act as a 'ghar ka bhedi' is relegated to merely stand as a witness in court.
Manoj Bajpayee clearly leads the pack and elevates the drama in most of the sequences where he appears. Arjan comes up with his best act till date and though he has done well in films like 'Fashion' and 'Guru' before, this one is a definite plus. Tia reminds one of the similar character that she has played in 'Haunted' (that of a girl being raped repeatedly) and though her role restricts her from displaying histrionics, she stays restrained as required in the film.
While these are definite loop holes in the script that are hard to be ignored, one can't deny the fact that as a filmmaker Maqbool Khan knew the kind of ambience and setting that he was aiming for. It is clear that he understands the milieu of Bijnor, the small town where the film is set, quite well and this is pretty much reflected in the characterisation, their body language, clothes and an overall landscape. He maintains a rustic look throughout his story telling and that is indeed a plus for the filmmaker who could just do so much more with a better script in place.