When it comes to whodunits and suspense, Hindi cinema hardly kills it. The killer can be spotted from miles away. Yet there have been some suspense films which have kept us guessing till the end. A toast to the twist that made these suspense films stand out.
1. Ittefaq (1969)
The late and in many ways great B R Chopra was a master of suspense thrillers. His Dhund (mist) was a failure but chilling nonetheless. Ittefaq is a tightly wound songless whodunit about a psychologically disturbed man on the run who seeks asylum in a woman’s home where she has bumped off her husband and hidden his corpse in the bathroom. Oooooh… Get goose-bumps just thinking about it. Rajesh Khanna riding the crest of his romantic superstardom dared to bare his character’s dark tormented soul. And Miss Goody Gumdrops Nanda actually played a killer!! Ha ha. This was the unofficial remake of George Englund’s Signpost to Murder NICE. B R Chopra’s grandchildren recently did an official remake. Ittefaq or WTF?
2. Kaun (1999)
Not Satya, Not Company. It was Kaun where director Ram Gopal Varma seemed to have the optimum fun scaring the yell out of us as a young seemingly hapless girl all alone in a house, defends herself against a serial killer. The unknown assailant hovered around like an angry ghost. Of course, the premise of a victim on the prowl is turned upside at the end. While this masterpiece lasts, Varma has a whale of a time letting his camera peer under the bed, over the shoulder, as though someone is constantly watching Urmila Matondkar as she goes from fear to apprehension. An absolute knock-out of a thriller.
3. Kahaani (2012)
A pregnant woman lands in Kolkata looking for her husband. That’s it. Sujoy Ghosh wove a gossamer treatise on the case of the missing husband drawing out of Vidya Balan, the performance of a lifetime. The finale didn’t quite make the cut. But it was riveting all the way Ghosh explored Kolkata like never before, making it a living character in the film.
4. 404 (2011)
Director Prawaal Raman’s noire suspense thriller is set in the dark prism of campus ragging. There is a student who commits suicide after serious bullying. And the entire plot converges on the debate on rationale versus the supernatural. In the end the rationalist professor, played brilliantly by director Nishikant Kamat is proven wrong. This film will haunt you for a very long time.
5. Andhadhun (2018)
He is blind… he is not… he is blind… he is NOT! Until the end of Andhadhun we don’t know if Ayushmann Khurrana’s blind character is really blind. Midway he gets a chance to take a peek when no one looking. Ayushmann Khurrana captured his character’s arresting ambivalence with a twitch here or a gesture there. But it was the incandescent Tabu as an unfaithful wife who lit up every dark brooding frame with her can’t-help-myself spark. Director Sriram Raghavan captured the ethos of unbearable suspense in almost every scene. Is he Bollywood’s Hitchcock? Ah, suspense, suspense!