The film also deals with terrorism and the tragedy of children suffering from war. Its screenplay was written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Suketu Mehta. It was rated R in America due to violence. The film was screened at the Stockholm International Film Festival.
Inayat Khan (Sanjay Dutt) is the Senior Superintendent of Police responsible for the security of Srinagar, Kashmir. One day, his young son Irfaan (Yogin Soni) meets with an accident and is taken to a hospital. Unfortunately, due to a fatwa instigated by the leader of a terrorist group forbidding doctors to treat policemen, the doctors refuse to treat Irfaan. Khan angrily threatens to kill the doctors if they don't treat his son, but they still refuse, saying they are willing to die rather than letting their families be killed by the terrorist group. As a result, Irfaan dies, and Khan personally swears to put an end to the threat of the terrorist group. After finding out that the group of terrorists is taking refuge in the village of Dalgate, Khan and his men manage to attack and kill all the criminals. Unfortunately, a family is caught in the crossfire, and they are killed as well. A young boy named Altaaf (Mohsin Memon) is the only family member who survives the shooting. He is severely traumatized by seeing his parents and sister dying in front of his eyes and is haunted by the memory of the masked policeman who shot at his family: that police officer is Khan. Altaaf falls unconscious and is jailed by Khan's men, much to Khan's anger, who then berates his officers for placing young Altaaf in jail. Khan's wife Neelima (Sonali Kulkarni), having just lost Irfaan and feeling sorry for Altaaf, attempts to persuade Khan to let them adopt the boy. Khan, despite his fear that Altaaf may one day discover the truth and get revenge for it, reluctantly agrees, feeling extremely remorseful for killing Altaaf's family.
Just when Altaaf seemed to have settled down in his new home and accepted Khan and Neelima as his new parents, he finds Khan's mask and realizes that Khan was one of the policemen who killed his family. After an unsuccessful attempt on Khan's life, the angry young Altaaf runs away and is found and brought up by a terrorist group led by their Pathan leader Hilal Kohistani (Jackie Shroff), who brainwashes him into thinking that he and his men act according to made up Islamic principles and trains him to become a terrorist. Ten years later, Hilal and an adult Altaaf (Hrithik Roshan) are assigned the task of completing "Mission Kashmir," a plan of an unnamed terrorist sponsor that involves — or so Altaaf is told — killing the Indian prime minister. Hilal uses Altaaf's hatred as a means to achieve his own goals, all the while encouraging Altaaf to target Khan (who is now an Inspector General) for his family's death. Altaaf visits his childhood friend and TV personality Sufiya Parvez (Preity Zinta) and, though he falls in love with her and helps her, he still uses her to try and make Hilal's plans (of blowing up the local TV tower of Srinagar on Khan's birthday) successful. He makes another unsuccessful attempt on Khan's life and, in the process, Khan recognizes him and begins trying to track him down, much to Neelima's discomfort, resulting in a fallout between Khan and Neelima. At the same time, Sufiya learns of Altaaf's occupation as a militant, and breaks off her relationship with him, despite knowing that his family tragedy has caused him to go that way. On the same date Atlaaf's family was murdered, Altaaf makes another attempt on Khan by having three of Hilal's men plant a bomb in Khan's briefcase. Unfortunately, this time, Neelima falls victim to it by accident, much to the distraught of both Khan and Altaaf, with the former being unable to apologize for his argument with her and the latter screaming in remorseful agony for killing her.
Eventually, Khan manages to invade one of Hilal's men's hideouts and discovers evidence and information about Mission Kashmir. After going through some cassette tapes with the help of Sufiya, he realizes that Mission Kashmir has nothing to do with taking down the Prime Minister at all: instead, the true goal of Mission Kashmir is to launch missiles on the local Muslim mosque and the local Hindu temple to escalate Hindu-Muslim conflict across the subcontinent, thereby dividing Kashmir and turning it into a war zone. It also turns out that the attack on the TV tower was planned to spread the rumor of murdering the Prime Minister to cover up the terrorists' true goal. Hilal deliberately does not tell Altaaf what Mission Kashmir really is, knowing that Altaaf would not support it and would try to stop it; this is evident when Atlaaf leaves to the swampy hideouts to prepare for the launches, Hilal secretly tells one of his men to keep an eye on Atlaaf, ordering his death if he doesn't consent over the true targets. By staging a fire in the jail that allows one of the bomb-briefcase men to escape, Khan and his men manage to track down and capture Hilal, but they are distraught to hear that Altaaf and the other terrorists have left to launch the missiles, something which neither the police nor the army can take action against, as they still don't have any idea or time to find out where the missiles will be launched. Deciding to play wise on this, Khan offers to make a deal with Hilal: going under the false pretense of allowing Hilal and his men to continue forward with Mission Kashmir in exchange for Altaaf, whom Khan swore to kill. He secretly lies to Hilal that he is more occupied with revenge for Neelima's death rather than doing his job of serving his country. Seeing that Khan's 'hatred' of Altaaf is worthy of a Pathan's duty, Hilal accepts the deal, and to ensure no other mistake will be made, Khan goes alone with Hilal to the missile hideouts.
As Hilal and Khan reach the swamps, Hilal tells Altaaf of Khan's whereabouts. At that point, an enraged Altaaf starts attacking a weary Khan to exact revenge for his family's murder. While doing so, Khan reveals to him the true goals of Mission Kashmir, stating that Kashmir will be turned into a hell. Having had enough of listening to him, Altaaf attempts to shoot Khan in the head. Khan, expressing his dear love for Altaaf and remorse for killing his family, is willing to accept his fate, but begs Altaaf to stop Hilal and his plans. As Altaaf struggles to do it, he then remembers that he once knew about the shrines Neelima took him to and the comment Neelima said about choosing sides during her visit earlier. Unwilling to betray his mother, Atlaaf decides to put his plan of revenge aside and aids Khan into stopping Hilal and his men from targeting the holy shrines. Just as things are about to end, Hilal throws a bomb to distract them before getting shot to death by Altaaf, giving Hilal's men a chance to prepare to blow up the shrines, much to Altaaf's shock. While Khan fights back by shooting several terrorists to death, Altaaf redeems himself by taking possession of a missile launcher and using it to destroy the other launchers and kill the remaining terrorists, thus saving the shrines. Eventually, Altaaf gets shot in the torso, and he falls into the swamps. Khan then jumps in and safely brings the unconscious Altaaf to the shore, evading the explosion of the hideouts caused by Altaaf's act of redemption.
The plans of Mission Kashmir are revealed to the public by the media, and the terrorist sponsor's hideout is found by Kashmiri police, who shoot the sponsor offscreen as he tries to get away after killing two of his associates. Altaaf wakes up from a pleasant dream based on one of the pictures he drew as a child in Khan's house, where he reconciles with Sufiya and forgives Khan, accepting him as his father again after 10 years.Sanjay Dutt ... Inayat Khan
Hrithik Roshan ... Altaaf Khan
Preity Zinta ... Sufiya Parvez
Jackie Shroff ... Hilal Kohistani
Sonali Kulkarni ... Neelima Khan
Puru Raajkumar ... Malik Ul Khan
Abhay Chopra ... Avinash Mattoo
Vineet Sharma ... Gurdeep Singh
Rajendra Gupta ... Chief Secretary
Ashok Banthia ... Sharafat
Mohsin Memon ... Young Altaaf
Heenaa Biswas ... Young Sufi
Yogin Soni ... Irfaan
Rohit Dua ... Goru
Suchita Trivedi as Dr Akhtar's wife
Security is always tight in Kashmir, due to the very real threat of terrorist violence. Hence the inspiration for films such as Mission Kashmir which address the local militant insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and the broader Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan.
But in late 1999 when young lead actor Hrithik Roshan arrived on location to start shooting Mission Kashmir, his first film had not yet released to theatres, so no one recognized his face. Arriving for the first day's shoot in Srinagar dressed as a Kashmiri militant, which he portrays in the film, the security guards on location thought Hrithik really WAS Kashmiri - because of his fair skin and light colouring - and refused to allow him on set! Shortly thereafter, on 14 Jan 2000 Hrithik's début film Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai turned him superstar overnight, 'Hrithikmania' swept India ... and his face was instantly recognized everywhere.
Mission Kashmir received generally positive reviews from critics. Mohammad Ali Ikram of Planet Bollywood gave it an 8.5/10 rating, praising the film's technical quality and the lead actors' performances. Saisuresh Sivaswamy of Rediff.com wrote, "This is a story from the director's heart, not his head, and the sincerity comes across in frame after frame." Giving the film 4 out of 5 stars, N K Deoshi of apunkachoice.com wrote, "Beneath all the drama that goes on in the movie there lurks the aspiration to get across to people the message of what actually people of Kashmir are going through." Savitha Padmanabhan of The Hindu stated, ""Mission Kashmir" might have its faults but it is definitely a cut above the rest of the commercial Hindi films that have been made on terrorism." She also praised the cast's performance and the film's production values. Film journal Screen praised the performances, but further wrote, "Chopra makes a sincere effort in his latest film Mission Kashmir to bring to the fore, the turmoil in the valley. But one feels disappointed, all the same, that there is very little of Kashmiriyat in the story, which is more of a personal conflict between the victim of a police shoot-out and a police officer."
The soundtrack of the film contains seven songs. The music is conducted by the award-winning trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, performing separately. Ehsaan Noorani composed three songs, while Shankar Mahadevan and Loy Mendonsa composed two songs each. According to the Indian trade website Box Office India, with around 15,00,000 units sold, this film's soundtrack album was the year's twelfth highest-selling.