NEW YORK – ‘Mona Darling’, directed by Shashi Sudigala, which had its international premiere at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York, exemplifies the atrociously bad and crass films that is being churned out from India in a heap and thrown at gullible theatre-going audiences.
Billed as a ‘social media’ thriller, ‘Mona Darling’ is anything but that: instead, it’s pure tribute to tedium and lack of intelligence in scriptwriting, and filmmaking.
The film’s script, with its disappointing, disjointed narrative – its major handicap, is a vexatious, venom-less, futile puzzle for most of the 111 minutes it drags on for. However, the prime hallmark of the film is predictably boring pace, barring the ridiculous, implausible climax, which is as inane as the premise of the film.
Sudigala seems to have taken inspiration from Ram Gopal Varma for sleaze and horror, in some of the opening scenes, but then chickened out, in favor of suggested porn or erotica on screen devices which students on a campus and all denizens of a state seem to ogle and find mirth in. However, the audience are deprived of seeing what exactly it is, and making a judgment call on whether this called for the kind of revenge mania that ensues in the film, and the body count that piles up.
The two lead actresses – Suzanna Mukherjee (who plays Mona), and Divya Menon (who plays Sarah, the friend of Mona), along with Anshuman Jha, (who plays a computer geek Wiki, who helps to unravel the mystery of Mona’s disappearance on a college campus, after four male students are found dead) give creditable performances, given the limitations of the juvenile script, which behaves like a cat with a ball of wool to play with, gets entangled in its intricacies as the minutes tick by.
The plot of the film is also a mashup of obnoxious and lackluster frat behavior, campus politics (with Sanjay Suri playing the Dean) and bewildering veering to a dash of the supernatural. Younger viewers who watched the drama play out, probably might have wished they were back home playing a game on Xbox, rather than trying to figure out the melodrama on screen, which played out to an half-empty Landmark Sunshine Cinema theatre, in Manhattan, last Thursday.
The plot of the film, at least where it pertains to invasion of privacy through social media sharing, cyber bullying, and making friends through Facebook, seems as antiquated as introducing a can of diet coke in India. It’s not only an assault of the senses, by Sudigala, but an insult to a country where technology pervades every aspect of life in metropolitan cities, and its suburbs, and prides itself on a growing number of smart cities.
A totally avoidable film to watch: 1 star out of 5.