Murder Mystery Version of a Comedy of Errors-Entertainment News, Firstpost

Language: Hindi

Director: Vasan Bala

Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, Bagavathi Perumal, Radhika Apte, Sikandar Kher, Akansha Ranjan Kapoor, Sukant Goel, Zayn Marie Khan

There are two ways to interpret director Vasan Bala’s film Monica, oh my darling. You could see it quite literally as another thriller drama in which things slip out of the hands of the conspirators in a crime and get out of their control so completely that they find themselves chasing a murderer as much as being prosecuted under suspicion for their own role in the plan went awry. Or you can see it as an homage and parody of noir thrillers in general. It’s fun to see it at the same time – a kind of comedy of errors in the form of a murder mystery, a salute to Hindi cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the works of Nasir Hussain; a neo-noir thriller that revisits a raw pattern already established by legends of the past and revisits it in a contemporary setting; a film that takes itself both seriously and seriously.

Monica, oh my darling begins with a murder. Nothing is hidden from the viewer in this scene. The killer, his motives, his method are all exposed for us to see clearly.

Cut to the current track of events at an office party where Jayant Arkhedkar (Rajkummar Rao) – a robotics genius, we’re told – is introduced by the founder-owner as the newest addition to the board of the organization. This causes considerable resentment among Jayant’s colleagues, especially the boss’s son (Sikander Kher) and an ordinary mortal among them (Bagavathi Perumal aka Bucks). Also present is an employee who knew Jayant aka Johnny well but who now finds himself dismissed as an inferior being (Sukant Goel) and a warm and friendly woman (Zayn Marie Khan) whom the latter clearly adores. Meanwhile, the boss’ daughter (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor) flaunts her personal relationship with Jayant, displaying the social skills and subtlety of a loud speaker.

As the party progresses, Monica Machado (Huma S. Qureshi) arrives on stage in all Helen’s glory, bathed in shadows and draped in a shimmering sequin dress, to dance for the audience’s entertainment. . We soon learn that she is having an affair with Jayant.

In this volcanic universe of amorality, anger and jealousy unveiled from the first minutes, a crime is conceived, of course nothing works as planned, and chaos ensues.

Monica, oh my darling takes its title from the iconic musical number depicted on Helen in Nasir Hussain’s Caravan (1971). It is written by Yogesh Chandekar, adapted from Japanese writer Keigo Higashino Burutasu No Shinzō as recognized in the opening credits. The film trumpeted its intentions early on with Monica’s style, RD Burman’s obvious inspiration for the song. Ek Zindagi which she performs, the choreography, the on-screen word choice – Sikandar Kher isn’t just listed among the cast, he’s advertised as “in dynamic appearance Sikander Kher” – and so much more.

Monica O My Darling film review Murder mystery version of a comedy of errors

In its first half hour, Monica, oh my darling is rhythmic and exciting, not least because of editor Atanu Mukherjee’s grip on the material, Swapnil S. Sonawane’s dimly lit frames from which he offers visual relief only with cool grays and whites of the day when various characters keep their masks on while waiting for darkness, and how the songs are woven into the narrative (entire soundtrack is by Achint Thakkar, he shares song credit Ek Zindagi with Mikey McCleary).

The first misstep occurs when the second crime is committed and the evidence of the trap into which two main characters fall is obvious.

I know I know, the obvious itself may be part of the nod to the film’s predecessors (like horror movie characters through the ages walking, albeit uneasily, through the woods and the tunnels although every viewer knows they shouldn’t). It doesn’t entirely work here though, and from there Monica, oh my darling becomes a mix of genuine suspense mixed with other moments of seemingly intentional obviousness that don’t always land.

The decision to introduce a Muslim character into this cauldron of deception, as an innocent victim of the games others are playing, may or may not have been crafted to reflect the politics of our times, but either way, it works. It is disturbing however that thinking people have casually written a Monica Machado in this script as a member of the office staff doubling as a cabaret dancer and also sleeping with everyone in sight, a resurrection of Hindi cinematic representation Christian women from before the 1990s, without acknowledging the harm done to India’s Christian minority by this old stereotype.

That aside, it’s also worth noting that procedural linchpin Jayant is incredibly stupid as a criminal despite his genius reputation and scientific knowledge. The sum of these weaknesses is that Monica, oh my darling as a whole proves not to be as engrossing as its introduction suggests, although it remains engaging until the end.

In its best moments, Monica, oh my darling living up to that early promise and a little more. A fight between Jayant and Monica, and another scene involving Jayant, a building, and a piece of paper, are terrific – precisely what you might expect from Vasan Bala, the writer-director of Hawkers and the co-author of Anurag Kashyap’s underrated Raman Raghav 2.0.

Three actors in this interesting cast stand out: Rajkummar Rao for not standing out at all but getting lost in the script so well that I forgot for a moment that the selfish, manipulative and amoral Jayant is played by the same guy who also played the role of the vulnerable gay policeman simply acknowledging his sexual orientation to himself and those around him Badhaai Do earlier this year: Sikander Kher who is so good at being bad it’s impossible not to wonder why he’s so rarely seen in movies; and Radhika Apte who seems to be having fun playing an eccentric police officer.

Them and the music are among the reasons why Monica, oh my darling remains entertaining throughout even if it’s not all it could have been.

Rating: 2.5 (out of 5 stars)

Monica, O My Darling is streaming on Netflix.

Anna MM Vetticad is an award-winning journalist and author of The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic. She specializes in the intersection of cinema with feminist concerns and other sociopolitical concerns. Twitter: @annavetticad, Instagram: @annammvetticad, Facebook: AnnaMMVetticadOfficial

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