Intriguing Fare

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Nov 2017 10:47:14

By Farina Salim Quraishi

We all do it. When a mystery movie comes on, we sit enraptured, looking for clues and signs; trying to be Sherlock Holmes of the first order. The inexplicable, not to forget unavoidable urge, to piece together a whodunit is next to impossible to ignore. And Ittefaq, with its layered mystery, will surely bring out the detective in you; making you rack your grey cells, trying to decipher the obvious. True, Bollywood’s track record in thrillers is far from thrilling, but Ittefaq, though a remake of Yash Chopra’s epynomous 1969 hit, is in a league of its own with enough thrills and mysteries to keep you guessing right till the very end.

It starts late one evening and celebrated writer Vikram Sethi (Siddarth Malhotra) is on the run from the police. After calling the cops after finding his wife – Cathyryn – dead, Vikram makes a mad dash for the road. Chased by cops, Vikram drives recklessly leading to a car crash. Bleeding and injured, he seeks assistance from a ‘nearby’ house belonging to Maya Sinha (Sonakshi Sinha). A jittery Maya reluctantly lets him in, and later runs away seeking cops’ help. Upon returning home, Maya – with cops in tow - is shocked to find Vikram standing near the dead body of her husband.

Senior inspector Dev (Akshaye Khanna) is called in to investigate the twin murders. Both Vikram and Maya have contrasting accounts of the fateful night and both versions sound sincere. Since both crimes have only two eye-witnesses (Vikram and Maya), who are also the prime suspects, Dev must to race against time and untangle the truth from fiction.

Take a bow, Abhay Chopra for giving us a true-blue murder mystery not seen in the longest time. The director knows his story and he definitely knows how to narrate one. Right from the edgy opening sequence to the pen-ultimate shocker, Chopra rides each crest and trough in Ittefaq with panache, with nary a second’s dullness.The tightly-woven script commands full attention, even as it goes back and forth in time incessantly, lest one misses a vital link.

Such is the strong pull of intrigue that a few minutes into the film, the heightened tension makes you notice and ponder over things that ultimately turn out to be nothing! At 102 minutes, the songless-film is sans any histrionics or drama and relies on the magic of subtlety to do the trick. The timelines in the three-day events are also taken care of, as are the minutest details in the movie. Numerous twists and turns are intricately woven into the nearly-flawless plot, with all loose threads tying up neatly in the end. The pace of the movie is even, if a little slow in the first-half. Moreover, unlike most thrillers, Ittefaq doesn’t lose steam post-interval and instead gallops more confidently to a surprising finish. The grim and somber palette of the films sets off its dark undertones beautifully. The biggest victory of Ittefaq is not that it’s a competently-made film but in its ability to make one recall incidents and fit into the puzzle! Case in point being the fingerprints on murder weapon.

Akshaye Khanna is fantastic as the cool cop. The gifted actor’s wry humour, sardonic smiles and clever word-play are things to watch out for. As he sifts through Vikram’s version and Maya’s story to ultimately filter out the truth, one can actually feel the wheels turning in Akshaye’s beautifully balding head! Siddarth Malhotra is another surprise in Ittefaq. The actor is at his vulnerable best in the film. Right from a grieving husband to an enraged innocent to finally a person who has given up hope, Siddarth plays the layered role with finesse. Sinha widens her large eyes one time too many and essentially just plays along in a well-written role.

All said and done, shorn of box office mandates, Ittefaq is a tautly-made edge-of-your-seat thriller which is as complicated as it appears simple. So arm yourself with a magnifying mind and keen eye and get ready to unravel the knots, you’ll have fun doing that!

PS: Those who already know the plot of the old Ittefaq be ready to be knocked out of your smug knowledge, Abhay Chopra has a surprise in store for all!

The Hitavada Rating: