Monday, October 18, 2021

ITTEFAQ Movie Review: Of bewitching style & bewildering substance

Are we all potential murderers? (depends), does the new age ITTEFAQ helmed by Abhay Chopra (his first feature) stays ‘alive’ with the 1969 classic psychological thriller drama

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Are we all potential murderers? (depends), does the new age ITTEFAQ helmed by Abhay Chopra (his first feature) stays ‘alive’ with the 1969 classic psychological thriller drama (which is yet again remake of 1965 American suspense thriller drama SIGNPOST TO MURDER  which is based on the play by Monte Doyle) helmed by Yash Chopra starring Rajesh Khanna and Nanda? Let’s find out.

The writer Abhay Chopra, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Mehrotra stick to the seed of the thought – ITTEFAQ (coincidence) and add the modern urban milieu with occasional dark and Hitchcockian overtones to keep you guessing till the very end and in the end (shhh. Spoiler alert). Okay.

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Thankfully it isn’t a complete remake and the writers take main points from the 1969 Rajesh Khanna starrer. We have a wounded novelist Vikram Sethi (Sidharth Malhotra playing a novelist dobaara) accused of killing his wife Katherine (Kimberley Louisa McBeath) taking refuge in the house of Maya Sinha (Sonakshi Sinha) who is hiding something.

The writers are more bewitched to present a stylish whodunit and not ashamed of ignoring the psychological and philosophical layers and undercurrents of the 1969 song-less classic helmed by Yash Chopra and produced by B R Chopra.

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Those who have seen the original will miss the bafflingly eccentric behaviour of the protagonist masterly played by Rajesh Khanna and the beguiling Stockholm syndrome experience by Nanda when she is held captive in her own house by Khanna and later she starts developing a bond with the man who made her hostage.

The eccentric behaviour of Khanna who played a painter in the original is replaced by the cool dude and strikingly handsome Sidharth Malhotra as a writer but the writer shares the same platform of becoming a victim of circumstances over here too.

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Agreed, the Yash Chopra helmed classic should not be compared with the modern 2017 ITTEFAQ but for concerned viewers, the déjà vu is inevitable. Though the ‘aam junta’ may not be bothered at all.

Abhay Chopra’s version is gritty in parts and occasional twists and turns are snaky but the complete connect and involvement of the audience is missing no matter whether they have seen the 1969 movie or not. The one who seems to have no complaint and enjoying a complete blast is Akshaye Khanna as inspector Dev.

The empty psychological and philosophical layers are filled with the Roshomon inspired different point of views from different people as the maze of half-truth, half lies entangles the audience to an extent but later they are also baffled by these narratives from different angles as the complete overall connect and surrender is missing.

ITTEFAQ could have marked the entry of Abhay Chopra as a graceful, mysterious, demanding story teller that leaves a baffling effect on the audience, the helmer shows traces of his potential by creating and sustaining the mood of the genre but his calibre as a story teller is defeated by the plot.

Abhay could have explored the psychological and philosophical angles the plot promises in a different way to distinguish this one from other routine whodunit, he also sprinkles this with dark de noir overtones but in vain.

However the casting is bang on!

Sidharth Malhotra is perfectly cast as the handsome writer finding himself accused of twin murders. Akshaye Khanna is having a blast but it is Sidharth Malhotra’s film who is completely indulged in the demands and especially during the second half he turns better frame-by-frame.

Sonakshi Sinha is amazingly natural in adding the tension and confusion to the situation and delivers a splendid performance. We have already informed about how good Akshaye Khanna is.

Other glaring loop-holes that kill the mystery are the background music which fails to create the impact, the unwanted humour could have been easily avoided.

And finally, when the mystery is revealed, without getting accused for being a spoiler, the revealation in the end in my sense almost ‘spoiled’ the effort to create a gritty edgy whodunit drama and this is not an ‘ITTEFAQ’

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