Filmmaker Sanjay Puransingh Chauhan is obviously well-versed in sports movie clichés, as Lahore is full of them. But most sports movies also have a formula, and Chauhan gets the formula all wrong.
Dheeru (Sushant Singh) is an up-and-coming kickboxer poised to make his debut for the Indian National Kickboxing Team. He has a shrill girlfriend, Neela (Shraddha Nigam), and a younger brother named Veeru (Aanaahad).
Veeru is an up-and-coming cricket star who was once himself a talented kickboxing prospect. He switched to cricket because he doesn’t like violence. By the law of sports movie clichés, this can mean only one thing: Dheeru is going to die in the ring, and Veeru will have to start kickboxing again to avenge his brother’s death.
This cliché in itself is not a problem. Rocky IV and Kickboxer are examples of the revenge cliché done well. Where Lahore gets the formula wrong is that the first half of the movie is footage of Dheeru training for his fatal fight. We all know he’s going to die; just kill him already, so that we can watch Veeru train for his revenge match! It’s kind of like if the first half of Rocky IV had been nothing but training footage of Apollo Creed.
With so much time wasted on Dheeru, Veeru’s storyline is rushed. Less than a month after his brother’s death (and in just a few minutes of screen time), Veeru becomes a skilled enough fighter to represent India in a friendly tournament against Pakistan — fighting the very man who killed Dheeru.
The heavy focus on doomed Dheeru also compresses the storyline involving Ida (Shraddha Das), a psychiatric intern for the Pakistani team, and Veeru’s eventual love interest. A musical montage shows Ida befriending Neela at the tournament where Dheeru dies. We don’t get any reasons why they suddenly become BFFs, other than that the plot requires it. Ida accompanies the coffin home and helps with Dheeru’s funeral, even though she only knew him for a matter of days.
The movie asserts that forgiveness and a shared interest in sports can help heal the division between countries as antagonistic as India and Pakistan. But Veeru’s inevitable forgiveness of Dheeru’s murderer strains credulity. Who among us would be able to hug it out with the person who murdered our loved one in cold blood after less than a month?
Besides the bad application of clichés, Lahore is poorly edited. The action shifts rapidly between shots of Dheeru engaged in a kickboxing match, Neela watching nervously in the stands, Veeru taking batting practice hundreds of miles away, and the guy operating the scoreboard at the kickboxing match. It removes the tension from the action scenes and makes the fight choreography seem sloppy.
The flow is so disjointed, watching Lahore is like trying to watch TV when your channel-flipping dad is charge of the remote control.