Director- Abhay Chopra
Starring- Sidharth Malhotra, Akshaye Khanna and Sonakshi Sinha
Rating- 3 stars
A murder mystery scores well if it manages to engage you while you are watching it and survives your scrutiny hours after you have watched it. Sadly Ittefaq, despite being a fair attempt, fails on both accounts.
The Roshomon style of storytelling where two prime suspects give two different views worked well initially but got so muddled beyond a point that it left me confused. The stories don't play out in one go and intercut each other. It helps create enough intrigue, I agree, but leaves you so puzzled and exhausted that you go, 'Ittefaq...what the f...!'
Dev, the investigating officer is told to solve the case in 3 days. It's meant to create a sense of urgency and pressure but the writers seemed totally out of sync with the idea. The investigation stretches over days, interrupted often by err water breaks. It felt like the apathy of Mumbai Police in the film rubbed off on its main protagonists who time and again took a break while telling an account of a serious murder.
However the actors are directed well by first time director Abhay Chopra. Both Sidharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha underplay their characters, holding back their emotions, that works well in a whodunnit film as it keeps us guessing.
The star of the film is undoubtedly Akshay Khanna. Dev is a well rounded character who becomes one with the audience as he goes through various emotions of doubt, empathy, and suspicion and Akshay nails each one of them with enough conviction and his signature eccentricity.
The humour is largely forced but works sometimes because of an adorable gang of cops played by talented support cast.
And then the stereotypes. Oh my god the stereotypes. Sidharth plays an Indian novelist, who stays in London. He is called Vikram Sethi. Wow, how original! A Maharashtrian cop is called, wait for this one, Tambe!! Ahem!!
And Sonakshi Sinha is found in a flimsy gown falling off her shoulders. Why? Because she is a Bollywood seductress bhai...! Haven't you noticed, our Hindi films seductresses are a certain kind of species found only in black negligee.
And then there is post analysis as well:
- why would the Police investigate only one of the two murders?
- why wouldn't you even check Vikram's dead wife's belongings including her phone?
- why would an injured Vikram limp his way, scale flights of stairs and seek help from a stranger who stays on the second floor?
- why the post mortem reports misreported the time of Shekhar's death?
To give its due, the film is song less, doesn't resort to the usual Bollywood nonsense of item numbers and is relatively tighter. A seamless smarter integration of its sub plots and a reasoned out story would have made Ittefaq far slicker!!