Particularly the ones that come with detective movies.
Raat Akeli Hai is indeed an evocative title, more so for Bollywood buffs of the Dev Anand song, but it hardly captures the movie that follows it. We could push a little more and say it’s a romantic title, much like Inspector Jatil Yadav- who’s secret gaze of women contradicts his lofty expectations from his future wife. “Decent” & “good looking” is what he tells his mother, how difficult would that be to find?
Later on a lonely night, somewhere in the Gangetic plain,as Jatil bhai sits down to have his reheated dinner, a gruesome muder is reported.
A large mansion. A dead old patriarch and suspects reaching to the double digits. It’s a classic Christie setting.
Wait! A short detour into what catapults the best Christie adaptations into classic status, hmm, it’s only five things that we really need.
There’s the idiosyncratic detective (mostly accented)
There’s the avengers type collection of the best of acting talent and all of them colorful suspects
(Maybe you can look up the list from Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express)
Of course, who could forget multiple motives
Easy deception or more deaths
Finally, climatic exposition of what happened, preferably in the drawing room.
Netflix’s Raat Akeli Hai has all of the above! Typing this makes us very happy, to see writing that loves genre elements like we do.
But that’s not all, if it’s classic Christie in part, writer Smitha Singh seems to have been bitten by the Chinatown bug and weaves in Radha (Radhika Apte), a shifty femme fatale and layers of social commentary.
Hmm, mostly it works well, no one can fault Nawaz as he limps through the small lanes in the search of clues and solve the murder of Raghubeer Singh. Nawaz believably goes from frustrated to sufficiently self confident.
Where Raat Akeli Hai loses the plot, is in its inability to differentiate the suspects, this is important in a classic Christie setting because the tension is wholly sustained on who the killer is?
Could it be him? Could it be her? Could it be them? Or could it be one of those unbelievable sleight of hands that Christie does and stumps her reader, just for sakes.
All of this tension comes from us knowing the characters, glimpses of their lives, their worries and motives from the interviews that the detective would take and frame the narrative. Here, after a point (the third act), it didn’t really matter who the killer really was and our characters are just names painted behind foldable film shooting chairs.
For the viewer tired of Christie’s Mysteries, there are lots of other things to look at, like the elaborately designed rooms in Thakur saab’s mansion, mirrors and Pankaj Kumar’s effective cinematography.
Yes, but it’s hard to watch this film and not think about Knives Out.
[As all the FRS writers begin to arrive at the writer’s room atop the 55th floor of an undisclosed chennai high rise building…]
Lool, what chennai high-rise building? You really thought we will give away our location? Nice try.
-5: Narration, since this is a trilingual we will multiply points by 3 whenever wherever. ( you can do the mental math on this )
-10: Usual cinema overdose of gangsters, here of course they run an entire city called Waaji
Maybe their official city song is Waaji Waaji Waaji En Jeevan Sivaji, although no such thing is implied.
Also also, this movie joins the list of movies which just say people are gangsters without explaining how or what made them turn into gangsters- no explanation of the process- these are important for FRS writers, we believe in detail.
+15: The contribution of gangsters to Waaji’s economy seems immense, they have a modern city functioning with the best security systems, banks, expressways and what not; maybe someone can do a paper about the economic benefits of letting gangsters run Indian cities, we mean…legitimately.
+21: The gangster congregation is more like those “Royal Stag- Have I Made It Large” type ad set up and of course we see that the Roy family is going back to India, to take over the country etc
<Cut to Mumbai>
+88.97: Hero is here to save another gangster (yes you cannot keep count) from a housing society, he has to reach the top floor within 5 cooker whistles, going from one floor to another but every floor has a different type of monstrous thugs + wild animals he has to overcome.
Holy mackerel! That’s a full movie right there, like Raid: Redemption meets the Cabin in the Woods.
Actually this can be a full movie. Should we cut points for director not going further with this idea?
+30: Hero is neither clean shaven or bearded, this intermediate state of facial hair is possibly to satisfy the expectations of both kinds of die hard fans of our hero.
-23: Clueless Mumbai Police is clueless or like we say in the office “Mumbai Police is not going to like this film”
+65.21: Although they will be very happy to have Shraddha Kapoor as a special agent <insert appropropriate yet respectable smileys here>
+5.52: Shraddha here is a special agent because she is special to our hero <wink wink>
+17: Whenever Bombay police is going to take up a special investigation, they will first set up secret headquarters which has fun start-up office feel, it has foosball, basketball ring, beer cafe, video game parlour and of course graffiti splashed walls (obvious) and before I forget, a shooting range.
I guess this is done so that the special agents really feel special <wink wink >
Good initiative by Mumbai Police
-7.3: One person in the special unit’s only job is to pan and scan CCTV footage, we believe that such a limited role will not help in future career paths #wecare
-45: Whenever Shraddha Kapoor meets hero, there will melodious music and slow breeze that will gently animate her hair cliche.
-20: Mumbai Police still use a random method to allot cases to their policemen.
<Cuts back to Waaji City>
-51.8: Everytime we cut back to Waaji City, there is a new set of gangster families and their heads that we need to place within the context of the story, since all of them wear suits and have cheroots in their mouth this memory game became a little difficult.
The FRS team as usual were innovative to brand everyone with above characteristics as villain and we went ahead with the viewing.
-8.10: Mega Mafioso death will trigger a succession war and no one in Waaji City knows how to get hold of the wealth cliche
-18.3: Mafioso uncles will have chief economic advisor (their words not mine) but will not have proper succession plan. It’s like one legal document would have prevented this whole film
+41: Mandira Bedi is styled to look like someone from a Gautham Menon film, this we believe is a teaser for next week’s hopeful release.
-23: Indian Music director still using BWAAANG music for any major moment in the movie without realizing that even Hollywood has moved past BWAANG!
-95: Waaji, a city infested with gangsters will also have the best in class police tech in the world including jet based police vehicles.
+23: Imaginative world building: director never gives the audience the time to guess the geographical locations in the movie- one second we are in a Dubai type desert city, next second rainforest, then snowy mountains.
Buy the ticket. See the world.
+4: Hero steals time bound tech device which everyone is after and then takes vacation with heroine all over the world.
Because of course why not.
+11: Vacation is photographed in great detail for future romance things, this we believe will give a boost to a sub segment in the photography economy called “couple vacation photography”
Become a vacation photographer. See the world (with a couple).Wink Wink!
-85: That reminds us, where did the comedian Kodandam go? Missing Mumbai police is missing. #MissingInAction
+21: Hero makes punchline based on cricket so that whole of India can react to it. Masterclass.
-50: Just when you thought you didn’t understand the complexity of the storylines, character will start to recite shloka in sanskrit. #truestory
+200: Director’s noble intention to show many movies in one single movie, I think this is a uniquely telugu director school of thought.
Multiple storylines. Multiple characters. Multiple twists and turns. But singular focus on hero.
Made us question if this movie is for real or like made up?
There too director stumped us by keeping a great song in the proceedings called “unmai ethu? Poi ethu? Sollidu Anbe
( you see we didn’t do the usual “all songs whenever wherever”, wink wink )
These directors are anticipatory genius.
A simple feeling of watching at least 23 movies and TV shows for the price of a single ticket.
A humbling yet exhilarating and uniquely tiring experience.
All numbers are incidental and arbitrary, except the facts provided by our data analytics team
Yes let us begin with railways.Last week when the Gatiman Express was launched and proved to be only ten minutes faster than the quickest of trains we already had, I groaned. That’s it?
Kabir from Ki and Ka would have been amidst those who would have complained about the ever reducing experience of the rail road or how forms of transportation seem to be converging based on just one parameter: speed.
Ki and Ka is one of the most well written films in recent history, it pays to notice that their back stories don’t seem like one liners scribbled in the corners of a script; but that which actually lends character.
A standing testimony to “two good characters and it’s a movie!”
Since we have already begun with railways, let us stick with Kabir; the one who is seen crying for his dead mother in transit, no he is not the spoilt-Singhania (Bansal actually) heir but a deeply sensitive man who misses his mother whom he feels has been thoroughly under recognized for the work she has done.
So we have a mama’s boy, trying to tell the world(and his father, no mainly his father; world comes later) that home making is an under appreciated art and that women almost daily have been denied of this credit while their men work away to corporate glory which has historically been called ‘work’. If women are truly the pillars to a man’s success, then in real time they are rusting only.
Kabir also likes trains, ‘likes’ here is a severely subtle description.
Son thinks he is continuing mother’s good work (also the story of Psycho, oops!) and combines his mother’s passion with his own (art meets art) and what we get is a dinner table served by a locomotive and a bed room that resembles an 80s waiting room (wow), see layers. A really fleshy character, i mean fleshed out character.
An act of God, in Bollywood land.
It would also help to notice that Kabir also thinks, his actions are driven by thinking.
Kia doesn’t want to be a pillar, she wants to be a CEO; at first she does seem like the one who would do anything to get ahead, and her back story is not as detailed as that of her better half and depends entirely on how Kareena(brilliant) plays it, she is genuinely curious and visibly tired of meeting the same old men who are seeking pillars, so meeting Kabir on an aircraft was indeed godsend.
Good movies are about two people talking and they become better when what they are talking about is more interesting than who is speaking those lines, the first set up in Ki and Ka is genuinely engaging. The characters need not be yugapurush-es( I dont know the stri-ling equivalent of yugapurush) when they are created and any sort of character development that happens during the course of a movie is like the well mixed flavored popcorn that one encounters when one reaches the very end of the basket.
Ki and Ka is a modern film for a truly modern audience, does it play around with stereotypes? Yes, but only to get to the point, I could not see this as a regular gender/role reversal film, I felt the film had risen above these problems; because it would have become a Ramany vs Ramany* episode otherwise.
To further strengthen my point, the problems that Ki and Ka puts forward are solved without much issue or drama. This film is not about career driven women trying to not have a baby without guilt because this problem gets solved within minutes.
Films are a reflection of what our society is or what society is moving towards, there could be people like Kabir out there who needs a Kia to function and there could be many Kias running away from becoming pillars and yearning to be architectural structures of beauty by themselves. (Kia ends up becoming the CEO of a construction company, nice touch there)
Ki and Ka is not about role reversal and it is definitely not a broad comment on man and woman, but an intimate look at two individuals post marriage. This is not about who gives up what or which profession is better; this Ki and Ka is actually Yin and Yang.
A well made modern film for the modern Indian, hopefully should inspire more Kis and Kas in real life as well.
Also officially now Arjun Kapoor is my favourite Bolly hero, the kind of restraint he brings to a character that would have become a caricature is absolutely magical.
Hey! Yes, they take the train back home, so finishing with railways as well.
We walked in, just in time to catch Reema Kagti’s name being flashed with the grim yet jazzy “Muskaanein Jhooti hai”; the song which also accompanies a certain TV spot of the film which has a full mouthed and in night gown Kareena dancing to the song in a jazz bar with revolving doors with all the movie’s characters, evoking the both the Bombay of the past and the classic Hollywood thriller, which is what it intends to do.
The night club song does not feature in the film, meticulously shot and high on style, it has no place in the film but then gives you an idea of what to expect from the film.
Which makes me wonder, whether little said the better is the right approach for a thriller?
Aamir Khan plays Inspector Surjan Shekhawat, who is assigned the case of a dead Bollywood actor, whose car crashes into the Arabian sea, but like any protagonist in a quest, he has his own problems which began with the drowning of his son. The inspector has internalized his problem and along with his disturbed wife Roshni (Rani Mukherjee) paint a picture which resembles the first few minutes of ‘En Bommakutti Ammavukku’, the pain of losing a child to water, ultimately ties itself with the case of the drowned actor.
An interesting subject for a thriller, but the writers do not seem to be interested in strengthening the process of investigation but more on establishing the pain felt by its protagonists, it is also to be noted that the inspector is not shown as fast thinking Indian Sherlock Holmes but a very human Mumbai Police officer. This makes the storyline or the case involved look simple; which is how probably real cases work. There need not be knots within knots just to prove the prowess of an investigator, I totally agree but the point of ‘big reveal’ is lost if you can see the ending from long distance. So that is perhaps why, I couldn’t take much from the film or to say it in other words Talaash did not create the effect that Yuddham Sei (also a film with a troubled police officer) had on me.
Or because the tagline of the film is, “the answer lies within” it should be seen not just as a thriller but also a sort of personal struggle. It is quite impossible to discuss the story further without giving away much of the plot.
And yes it is amazing how Zoya Akthar and Reema Kagti went from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, that itself warrants Talaash a watch, also there is Kareena Kapoor and Nawazuddin Siddiqui(Two more reasons).
<click on the picture above to listen to the song, yes technology>
The credits at the beginning state that Nishikanth Kamath’s Force is inspired from Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Kaakha Kaakha, interesting to note that the word inspired was used, rather than a remake. Inspiration is too big a word to be discussed with just these two movies, but then it is almost impossible for a person who had watched KK before not to compare it with its successor Force.
Kaakha Kaakha is strongly etched in the minds and hearts of tamil cine-goers from the past decade, it shook some walls and provided the much needed breakthrough for actor Surya at the same time establishing Gautham Menon. But having said that, just because a film has a lot of repeat audiences doesn’t make it a great film and i will stop with that on my personal opinion on the tamil film.
Force as a film tries to deliver more and of course it was not made for people like us( people who have watched KK), so there is point in complaining and indulging in futile comparisons, as a movie Force is quite good with its protagonist John Abraham striving hard, not just physically.
Keeping the two films side by side, mentally and not comparing them, according to me would yield better results in appreciating both. Nishikanth Kamat should be praised for not involving himself in the strict sense of the word: a remake. A remake in Indian Cinema is usually taking a South film shot in Chennai and just change the setting to Bombay; of course with different actors. Remakes here, do not necessarily delve deeper than its predecessor and chalk out better characters or smudge errors. Most of the time, the remakes are worse than the originals and fall short even in creating what filmmakers superficially call ‘atmosphere’. But looking back at the films of Kamath, Evano Oruvan and Mumbai Meri Jaan, Force does lack his visible comfort in handling social issues. In Force, it is narcotics.
KK was a more personal film, it was more of a love story than a police story and as the voice over in the states it is ‘an episode in a police officer’s life’. The relationship between Suriya and Jyothika, Suriya and Jeevan being the focal points for which the life of a policeman was a sturdy guise. Here, in Force it is more of a cop movie and how clever cops and hash smugglers are, these events take most of our time and we are exasperated when it comes to the lackluster romance between Genelia and John Abraham, at some points it is almost like a NDTV coverage of a drug bust.
Most of the characters are the same, in Force the villain is as menacing as the hero and is the only character that interests. Good work by Vidyuth Jamwal. Genelia as usual thinks she is still playing her role from Santosh Subramanium and John Abraham smiles too much in what should have been a gruff and socially distant police officer.
Note to Hindi Filmmakers, mouthing ‘Anna’ doesn’t make a person look like he has come from the south of the vindhyas and girls in Bharatnatyam attire strumming the sitar!!!pls this is not a lesson on national integration.
I would like to end by saying that(i like this line, i have waited many a seminar for people to say this) Force is a good film, if only you can shut your mind of the fact that it has already been made before.