U-Turn is more of a dead end

Alaya F in U-Turn is the sold redeeming factor in an unconvincing thriller. Photo: Chase India

This story is said to have created some sort of a record after the Kannada original was released only seven years ago—it is said to have as many remakes in multiple languages. As is the pattern seen in all of these year’s remakes, the most logical, often best and the most interesting parts in the originals are incomprehensibly changed or modified for perceived pan-Indian appeal.

Add Ekta Kapoor, with her penchant for ‘hot’ subject like the Ragini MMS franchise, The Dirty Picture¸a couple of web series and Love Sex And Dhokha even makes the heroine, rookie (and investigative) journalist Radhika Bakshi (Alaya F.), talk about her sexual escapades with an anxious visiting mother (Grusha Kapoor), which, I am told by a colleague, is a departure from the Kannada original, where they discussed marriage. Ekta, when not obsessed with retro-flavored family soaps, goes to the opposite extreme!

The denouement of this minus-two-hour film is also terribly stretched and looks forced—again, I am told, it is changed from a more logical one in the original. Remakes (being made from the 1940s successfully!) are said to be jinxed today because the originals are freely available on OTT. But I am forced to disagree: remakes in Hindi are not working mainly because they are stupidly altered—for no sensible reason. This film may be economically on safe ground because of its OTT release, but it is still more of a dead-end that spurns logic as brazenly as its characters disrespect basic traffic laws!

The film tells the story of a U-turn on a new highway in Chandigarh (that is mysteriously barely traveled on!). The entire stretch seems to be made of movable blocks used as dividers—something quite absurd on a new highway! But that’s just for starters! A biker removes two blocks, takes a U-turn because of a seemingly important reason, and after that, is not bothered to put them back in place! Ergo, a car comes in the reverse direction at speed, and overturns because of that. The occupants are killed.

Ten more times, or thereabouts, the blocks are removed by drivers at the same point, and whether accidents happen or not, all perpetrators are murdered within 24 hours, often in a gruesome manner, two of them while being arrested in jail itself. So how does all this happen? Seems there is a mendicant based at the very spot as the blocks (How does he sustain his livelihood? Questions! Inconvenient questions!) and when Radhika is following the story, she takes the numbers of the offending vehicles that this man cleverly jots down. Radhika has a contact in the Road Traffic Organization who then gives details of the vehicle’s owner to her!

Of course, no one comes in the opposite direction (or even behind the offenders!) when they all have the same idea of the U-turns and removing the blocks at the same point when they are there throughout the stretch. Now, now, that is some ‘stretch’ of the imagination!! A poster “Remove these blocks if you wish to amek a U-turn!” is all that is missing!

The cops are now apprised of what is suspicious by Radhika, but most of them, instead, suspect her of being the murderess! Except Inspector Arjun Sinha (Priyanshu Painyuli), who is not as dumb as the rest in his brain power! Constable Dhillon (Manu Rishi Chaddha), who is obsessively concerned about his own health, ascribes everything to a supernatural force. And true enough, Radhika is herself subjected to apparitions (her brother has been killed in one such mishap when she would have been the driver that day, but wasn’t so merely by chance!). She is still submerged in guilt. And we are also shown her mother, living elsewhere, “talking” to her dead son!

Crime thrillers that seem to be bordering on the supernatural are nothing new in cinema. One of the most exciting such thrillers in recent times was Phobia, interestingly with an actress, not character, who was named Radhika (Apte). But this one is so disinterestedly made that, despite some nice chills and thrills, the end is like a balloon being pricked.

Plus, the journalistic angles shown remain absurd: a date with a boyfriend (who is also used for a red herring!) is denied because a story has to be delivered “by the end of this week”! Really? There is no seeming boss either encouraging or dominating the reporters and we also have a lackadaisical approach at work by Radhika, who seems to be more interested in becoming a detective and mentally processing the data she and the cops have accumulated than on deadlines or daily routines!

The film is rescued by a shining performance from Alaya F. Showing great mettle for a newcomer carrying a film on her slim shoulders, she uses her expressive eyes and body language to etch an interesting persona who also meets some comparatively demanding parts of the script. The rest of the cast is alright, Manu Rishi Chaddha having the edge. Shridhar Dubey also does well as the suspicious cop, but Rajesh Sharma is reduced to a kind of comedian—unintentionally.

Technically alright, the film is directed by Arif Khan, a newcomer whose real skills will be tested with an original subject—and a far better script. And Alaya also deserves that.

Rating: *1/2



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