The Great Indian Murder: Rambles from beginning to end

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Richa Chadha and Pratik Mehta in The Great Indian Murder Photo: Universal Communications

A hyped novel and a terrible script—this is essentially like a “Great Indian Murder” (wonder why the book was called that at all!) of the whodunit genre!

Clearly, director Tigmanshu Dhulia (who was last seen in his element in Shagird, a box-office calamity, and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, which also underperformed) is not at all remotely in control. The format followed by such ‘intellectual’ filmmakers of trying to show ‘clever’ filmmaking only leads to torture for the audience looking for, in this case, excitement and the thrills expected from a good murder mystery.

Give Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner or Frederick Forsyth this script and they will wring their hands in despair at what has been done here to a genre they created so masterfully, and probably bang their heads too!

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For starters, the murder victim, Vikas Rai (Jatin Goswami) is an all-out scoundrel and cad, treating women as objects, men as commodities and everyone as stepping-stones towards his lust for power and money as well. He is the son of an indulgent, equally unscrupulous politician father, Jagannath Rai (Ashutosh Rana), who does everything to shield and back him.

Vikas has been acquitted of yet another accusation (thanks to obvious manipulations) and has thrown a lavish party for his friends. Amidst the sound of the celebratory fireworks, he is shot dead. No one is allowed to leave the venue, and two people, Munna (Shashank Arora), a petty thief from the slums, and Eketi (Mani P.R.), a tribal from Andamans who has come to India to search for the stolen idol of their goddess, are found with guns in their possession and arrested.

The CBI enters and officer Suraj Yadav (Pratik Gandhi) is immediately told to make a case against the existing chief minister. There is a police team to help an honest investigation, led by Sudha Bharadwaj (Richa Chadha) and her junior, Manjot Singh (Guneet Singh).

As the “investigations” continue, fingers also point at former IAS officer Mohan Kumar (Raghuvir Yadav), who suffers from a split personality—his alter-ego is none other than Mahatma Gandhi! The machinations continue, even as Sudha, who has once accepted a bribe for acquitting Vicky, suspects an agenda when Suraj does some suspicious things and makes strange decisions.

An important point here: neither Sudha nor Suraj were among the dramatis personae of the original novel, and the way they are integrated here adds to the mess. And why do I term it a ‘mess’? Because, the series gets into repeated—some exasperating indeed!—flashbacks all too often.

Secondly, the script ensures that most episodes are named after characters, and so too much time is spent on them, like Mohan Kumar, Eketi and Munna. The average length of an episode is 40-plus minutes. While the crispest whodunits are narrated on screen in 2 hours or a little more, imagine what we have to endure in 9 such episodes!

And seriously, there are too many sequences that made me think, ‘What on earth is going on?’ and ‘Will this really count in the solution?’ Like there was no connection between Sudha’s invalid husband (Rushad Rana) and the storyline really, and what was achieved by the character of the libidinous Rita Sethi (Himanshi Choudhary)?

When I reached the ambiguous end, I was left wondering, having never read the original book, whether they are itching for another season! At another level, I even got more fuzzy-headed wondering if there were ‘Six Suspects’ (the name of the novel pn which this is based), less or more?

Never mind. The bottom-line here is a garbled narrative that rambles its way through twists and turns, all told in a way that we soon lose interest, and I, as a critic, have to endure the complete series as I have to review it!

The performances range from decent to mediocre, with the exception of Mani P.R. as Eketi—his expressions are superb, Shashank Arora as Munna, and Raghuvir Yadav, who does an excellent job of the cantankerous Mohan Kumar and the “placid” Mahatma. Richa Chadha is almost insufferable. Her standard expressions and manner of speech begin to grate as her character is additionally half-baked and ill-conceived.

Pratik Gandhi as Suraj is another major letdown. In complete contrast to his brilliant turn in Scam 1992, this time, he is clearly handicapped by another sketchy and ambiguous character. But he cannot rise above the role, something that I expected from him after watching that series.

Why this one was green-lit is the actual “mystery”. And Ajay Devgn must seriously stop getting conned into endorsing such “entertainment”.

Rating: **

Disney+Hotstar presents Ajay Devgn Films & RLE’s The Great Indian Murder Produced by: Ajay Devgn & Priti Vinay Sinha Directed by: Tigmanshu Dhulia Written by: Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vijay Maurya & Puneet Sharma Music: Raghu Dixit & Ketan Sodha  Starring: Pratik Gandhi, Richa Chadha, Ashutosh Rana, Shashank Arora, Raghuvir Yadav, Sharib Hashmi, Paoli Dam, Mani P.R., Himanshi Choudhary, Amey Wagh, Jatin Goswami, Rucha Inamdar, Ronjini Chakraborty, Deepraj Rana, Rushad Rana & others

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