Raat Akeli Hai

This ‘Raat’ is not ‘’Akeli at all- it comes with a repertory of characters, a number of back-stories and a series of dots, which need to be connected in order to fully comprehend the mystery of this whodunit film. The entire story is played out over a span of two and a half hours. Therefore, if you want to enjoy this film, make sure you do not miss a single scene and a single dialogue in the film and watch the whole film in one go.

 The long opening night scene filmed on the banks of Ganga sets the mood of the film- it is dark, intriguing and has many layers to it.

The story is created around the subterfuge happenings, in an old mansion during a wedding night, where all the characters are made to look and behave as suspects. The first half of the film is used to introduce various characters and the investigation starts only in the second half. The script of the film written by Smita Singh has the ingredients of a mystery novel, like a number of suspicious looking characters of an extended feudal family collected together to celebrate a wedding in an old haveli contrasted with an atmosphere of dimly lit nights on the banks of the Ganges around the leather tanneries to make a gripping whodunit suspense thriller. But from script to the screen, is a long journey for a film and the captain of the ship during this transformative journey is the person called director of the film. So if a script with almost all elements of a good whodunit plot, despite being well cast, well acted, well designed and well shot, fails to keep the audience hooked on for the duration of two and a half hours you know where the deficiency lies. I wonder why the length of the film could not be shortened in spite of the fact that the film is edited by one of the most seasoned editors in the industry A.  Sreekar Prasad of Talvar, Mangal Pandey, Dil Chahta Hai fame. Honey Trehan, the debutant director of the film has been a very successful casting director for films like Tumbbad, Makde, Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminey, Dedh Ishquia and Udta Punjab etc. and no wonder he does such a good job with the casting of this film also.

Another factor in the film, which contributes to the inadequate grip of film, is the acting of the protagonist, Inspector Jatil Yadav played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He has developed an understated style of restrained acting, which he continues to use in almost all his films, whether he is playing the role of a culprit on the run or a rebel inspector.  At times during the film, it seems we are watching Nawazuddin Siddiqui and not Inspector Jatil Yadav. Radhika Apte as Radha and Illa Arun as Inspector’s mother do justice to their roles. Tigmanshu Dhulia is gradually becoming a seasoned character actor, while Swanad Kirkire is trying hard to add acting also in his repertoire of talent.  Shweta Tripathi fails to evoke sympathy, which her character demands. Padmavati Rao played by Pramila Rao; a theatre artist from Bangalore seems to be a welcome find. All said and done, ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ is a film where all ‘pieces’ seem to be in right place but the over all film fails to attain its optimum potential.

P.S. Just a small query. Nawazuddind introduces himself as a sub-inspector and wears three starts on his shoulders?

Published by

O P Srivastava

A banker-turned filmmaker based in Mumbai. India.

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