The territory is similar to 'No Man's land' the Bosnian drama that tripped Amir Khan's 'Lagaan' to win the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Unfortunately there's little depth in the drama, the conflict is poorly structured and the ensuing experience is just not affecting.
While 'No Man's land' had currency in the Bosniak-Serb hostility, Kya Dilli Kya Lahore sets it's sights on the Indo-Pak war post independence. So right from initiation, the historical trip is mainly nostalgic. And history is never made here, it's re-written with silly incompatible dialogues and manufactured situations that never ring true.
It is 1948. At a little outpost on the newly formed India-Pakistan border Samarth (Manu Rishi) a cook attached to an Indian battalion finds himself at the receiving end of enemy gunfire - from Rehmat (Vijay Raaz) a Pakistani jawaan who has been ordered to steal a confidential file, by his wounded Senior (Vishwajeet Pradhan). It's nearing night and the two are pretty much alone and playing one-upmanship in order to best the other. The tangle leads to Samarth getting wounded. As hours pass and night becomes day, they talk to each other (from a range that's hardly fit for any suitable communication) and find that they have more in common than first perceived. Unfortunately it's not enough to keep them alive!
Not quite original but it could have been far more heart-felt. The manner in which the screenplay moves from conflict to heavy-duty smaltzy nostalgia kills all connect and makes the entire set-up unreal and unaffecting. The period is also not denoted in a manner befitting a historical. Rehmat wears pants with a zipper, the two reminisce about food with references to the metric system which was not at play in the period the film is set in and a major blooper about water being collected from a well much after the bucket and rope gets detached from the pulley and falls in the deep, causes further distention.
As far as the first-time effort by Vijay Raaz goes- he manages to create a few stray moments where you just about manage to feel the dichotomy of a war pitting brother against brother. But it's so sporadic a connect that the effect doesn't stay with you. The writing is pretty shoddy with too many writers spoiling the broth.
Gulzar's so called poetry doesn't affect in any way here. The background score is a little too overdone. With only four characters at play here, the entertainment also becomes limited. Intensity and intimacy could have been brought into play to offset that, but the first-time director prefers to score easier hits and misses the big time. Vijay Raaz does manage a bitter-sweet radiance in performance but Manu Rishi , drops off into inconsistency from time to time. Raj Zutshi is unintentionally funny as a wannabe soldier while Vishwajeet Pradhan is facilely effective.
The anti-war theme, the short runtime, the stagey enactment of convenient brotherhood makes for a febrile enchantment. But the lack of depth and tension, poor exposition and development leave you disappointed as well!