Written by Manisha Lakhe
Deadpan Is One Expression. Not the Whole Movie.
And Not For Every Character.
A factory owner is dead and his wife suddenly finds herself in practically penury. Their son returns from boarding school for the funeral and begins suspecting foul play. Alas, the super slowness of the film kills any interest you may have in the unraveling of the plot given away ten minutes into the film.
Manoj Bajpai and Smita Tambe seem to have a troubled marriage. They eat in silence for five minutes.
‘Ooh! Artistic!’ you think.
‘Looks like this marriage is in trouble!’ you think.
But she goes to bed and he goes to bed and then she wakes up and he wakes up and he showers and gets ready to go to work.
‘I’ll be late,’ He says.
‘Ok!’ She nods.
Her mother who had served them food the night before, who chose to not eat with two surly, unhappy people asks the question we are asking,’What is going on with Manoj Bajpai?’
We’re told he will come back after everything is better at the factory. And that it’s okay for him to stay away from home every couple of nights…
Just when you think he’s having an affair, we see him play chess with his dad. She calls. He says he will be late’. Thankfully they show her going to bed or we would have had to watch mother and daughter eat in silence for ten more minutes.
Is Film Ka Rukh Kidhar Ko Jaa Raha Hai?
Where is this film going, you wonder.. What is the ‘Rukh’ (direction) of this film unless it is to show the mere banality of existence? You have great expectations from the film rumored to be in competition with Newton, to be India’s entry to the Oscars.
Thankfully Manoj Bajpai dies in a car accident. Phew! something happened! The son comes back from boarding school for the funeral, and along with a tonsured head, he now sports a surly expression that does not change through the film.
Then you realise everyone (different characters show up at/after the funeral) is now suddenly acting mysterious. No wonder the son thinks there’s something wrong. The camera stays with his silky face for lingering minutes. You are supposed to figure out what is going on with him.
Nothing a tight slap would not have fixed, you begin thinking…
But this cinema is desperate to be in the art space, so everyone now speaks in half sentences just to keep the suspense going. Erm… Didn’t they give away the secret after the chess scene? The factory owner, one Muslim factory worker, one hot-headed Hindu factory worker, the factory accountant, a South Indian henchman in his black car, the police inspector and the truck driver who hit and run are all needlessly speaking in clipped sentences.
The TV show Crime Patrol has better plots (and more coherent dialog) you think. Then the back-story of how the surly son beat the heck out of a school bully and was then sent away to boarding school pops up. Instead of empathizing with his teen angst at being sent away, you now wish the lad was the one in an accident instead.
The lad tries to find out why and how his dad died but his expression doesn’t change. You wonder if the teen angst film Udaan is on Netflix or Amazon Prime… By the time the lad figures out how his dad died, you are bored out of your wits.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )