A political journalist gets an anonymous call while she is busy cleaning up her cake-smeared face in the washroom. The caller on the other end shoots questions at her promising a 'scoop' in exchange. Until he asks her the significance of 2nd October. From there, Vivek Agnihotri takes us on a journey which has its share of ups and downs.
The Tashkent Files revolves around a young, ambitious journalist Ragini (Shweta Basu Prasad) who publishes an article about the mysterious death of India's second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri. Things pick up steam and an official inquiry committee is set by the government to investigate Shashtri's death.
The rest of the plot revolves around how Ragini tries to uncover the truth by turning back the pages of history and comes face to face with the world of politics and espionage.
The filmmaker picks up one of the most controversial chapters from India's past and runs us through several theories surrounding it. The film throws questions like 'Why were there cut marks on Shastri's body?', 'Why no post-mortem was carried out?' 'Was there a conspiracy behind the accidental deaths of two witnesses- Shashtri's servant Ram Nath and his personal doctor Dr. RN Chugh?
While Vivek Agnihotri has all the ingredients to make a gripping political drama, it's his half-baked execution which spoils the show. The narrative lacks the zing and makes it tiresome watch.
Speaking about the performances, Shweta Basu Prasad dominates majority of the screen-time and pulls out an honest act, barring a few scenes where she goes a bit over-the-top. Mithun Chakraborty, Pankaj Tripathi and Pallavi Joshi are impressive. Naseeruddin Shah suffers from a poor-sketched role. Mandira Bedi plays her part well.
The cinematography works fine. On the other hand, the choppy editing sticks out as a sore thumb and adds chaos in few places. Another minus point is the gloomy backgound score which just doesn't blend well in the narrative.
The Tashkent Files had the potential to be an arresting look into one of the most shocking controversies about India's political history. Unfortunately, it's Vivek Agnihotri's feeble execution which topples the game.
At the end of the film when it's displayed that the authenticity of the facts displayed cannot be verified, it leaves you questioning the blurred line between facts and fiction in the film. I am going with 2.5 stars.