Banners: Red Chillies Entertainment,
Dharma Productions, BR Studios
Producers: Renu Ravi Chopra, Hiroo
Yash Johar, Gauri Khan, Karan Johar
Director: Abhay Chopra
Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Akshaye Khanna
and Sidharth Malhotra
Writers: Abhay Chopra, Shreyas Jain,
Music: Tanishk Bagchi
Hindi cinema isn’t exactly fond of the whodunit genre but filmmakers usually hit the bull’s eye when they do attempt a crime thriller. Sure, it’s a tricky genre but when approached correctly, these films have even turned out to be money spinners. The fact is, there is an audience out there hungry for a good old whodunit.
The last film to release in this genre was Aamir Khan’s Talaash, which did moderately well at the ticket counter. Now, kudos to Red Chillies, Dharma and BR Films for placing their faith in this genre and making Ittefaq, a remake of the 1969 crime thriller. Credit is also due to the three protagonists of the film – Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha and Akshaye Khanna – for their spot-on performances. The movie manages to retain the thrill factor and keeps you hooked till the very end.
Although the new Ittefaq is not a frame-to-frame copy of the original, it is an edge-of-the-seat drama with many twists in the tale. The suspense has been leveraged perfectly and the movie keeps you guessing till the very end, when the killer’s identity is revealed.
Dev (Akshaye Khanna), a cop, is assigned to solve a double murder. His prime suspects, Vikram Sethi (Sidharth Malhotra), an acclaimed writer, and Maya (Sonakshi Sinha), a young homemaker, narrate their own versions of the truth to prove their innocence. Dev, torn between two stories, goes all out to unravel the truth behind the murder mystery.
The film kicks off with a car-chasing sequence, where Vikram is seen fleeing from the police in a car, and while on the move, his car flips. As he runs for cover, he ends up in the same building as Maya’s apartment. Simultaneously, the film introduces us to Maya, huffing down the stairs, finally running into a cop’s car. She looks powerless and breaks into a sprint along with the cops. They enter her apartment, only to find the corpse of her husband, Shekhar Sinha, lying beside a broken glass table. What follows next forms the crux of the film.
The film actually revolves around two murders, UK-based novelist, Vikram Sethi’s wife Catherine’s and the murder of lawyer Shekhar Sinha, Maya’s husband. The ‘ittefaq’ or double murder, of their spouses, on the same night, helps build intrigue. As the protagonists, Vikram and Maya, accuse each other of the respective murders, the no-nonsense cop is all ears to hear both sides of the story to get to the truth.
The plot is intriguing and far from predictable. The small flaws in the plot are compensated for with the eventful night churning out some perplexing and bone-chilling twists. Both parties look petrified and try their best to prove their innocence in police custody, facing interrogation.
There is always a chance that a film, especially of this genre, will sink in the second half. This film passes the test. It has a gripping second half that builds towards the climax. Along the way, it reveals some jaw-dropping truths, marking a subtle debut for director Abhay Chopra.
This Bollywood-defying film, with no songs or dance numbers, keeps the urgency of the plot intact. Raat baaki, the song originally used in the Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor film Namak Halaal (1982) a couple of ago, has been used in the film, recreated by Tanishk Bagchi and crooned by Nikita Gandhi and Jubin Nautiyal. The track complements the suspense of the film. A special mention for the background score, which is initially a dud but picks up as the film proceeds and compliments the eerie set-up.
Performance-wise, Akshaye Khanna as the smart and tough cop, with his smart-alecky, tongue-in-cheek-humour, elevates the humour in the film. Sidharth Malhotra delivers his best performance to date and his performance is one of the USPs of the film. Sonakshi Sinha looks convincing in her part and is excellent. The others lend adequate support.
Verdict: Don’t miss this if you believe in the whodunit genre. A winner at the ticket counter.