Film: Raat Akeli Hai
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Padmavati Rao, Shweta Tripathi, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Nishant Dahiya, Ila Arun, Swanand Kirkire, Aditya Srivastava
Director: Honey Trehan
Rating: 3 Moons
Investigative thrillers have been explored by filmmakers in all ways but the genre is taken to task by Honey Trehan’s directorial debut Raat Akeli Hai. Featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, the 2 hours 30 minutes film delves deep into the dark layers of two interlinked cold-blooded murders.
Set in Belaghat at Kanpur, Raat Akeli Hai orbits around Inspector Jatil Yadav (Nawazuddin). His mother, played by Ila Arun, wants him to settle down with a good-looking and fair-skinned girl. Holding a mirror to society’s obsession with people of ‘saaf rang’, Jatil has his own battles to deal with.
One night, he is summoned to investigate the brutal murder of Thakur Raghuvir Singh, an influential personality in town. Hours before his killing, Thakur married Radha (Radhika Apte) who is half his age. His first wife was killed in a car accident five years ago.
Jatil’s suspects are Thakur’s daughter Karuna Singh (Shweta Tiwari) and his first wife’s family including her brother Ramesh Chauhan (Swanand Kirkire), his wife Pramila Singh (Padmavati Rao) and their children Vikram Singh (Nishant Dahiya) and Vasudha Singh (Shivani Raghuvanshi).
The family’s hatred for Radha, who they address as Thakur’s rakhail, bothers Jatil. He is fascinated by her beauty. Radha has secrets. The local politician Munna Raja (Aditya Srivastava) uses his power and connections to convince Jatil that Radha is guilty. But Jatil risks his life to prove otherwise. The corrupt Superintendent of Police Lalji Shukla (Tigmanshu Dhulia) makes the investigation difficult.
Honey Trehan, formerly a casting director, makes an honest attempt at narrating this unflattering investigative thriller. Monotony seeps in early with its slow-burn approach. While the climax does give a poignant message, the journey until then is tedious and unappealing. Story, screenplay and dialogue by Smita Singh fail to keep up the excitement. Topics like racial discrimination, non-consensual sex form the undertone. The characters are half-baked and have little depth.
Raat Akeli Hai has no nail-biting suspense, but Nawazuddin and Radhika pull off their characters well. Jatil has his own struggles, personal and professional, he’s not a supercop, but to watch Nawazuddin’s stoic cop expression crease into a gentle smile on seeing Radha is beautiful. Radha is an epitome of strength. Having faced torture and hardship, she fears none. Radhika aptly uses body language to communicate tragedy and injustice.
In the ensemble cast, Shivani Raghuvanshi and Nishant Dahiya shine brightest. The actress, who was formerly seen in Made In Heaven, makes the most of her screen time and plays well with her expressions. Nishant justifies his character Vikram and is perfect for the role that needed to be better developed. But stellar actors like Shweta Tripathi, Padmavati Rao and Aditya Srivastava are wasted. Their characters lack development.
The production design is raw and real. Director Of Photography Pankaj Kumar captures the town in its true sense. Sans sheen and gloss, his camera paints a realistic picture. Editor A. Sreekar Prasad tries to keep Raat Akeli Hai crisp but fails to do so because of its uneven narrative. Music by Sneha Khanwalkar is jarring at times. But flowing with the narrative, it is authentic to the backdrop of the small town.
Raat Akeli Hai derives its title from the iconic song of the same name from Dev Anand’s Jewel Thief. Unlike the song that beautifully captures a range of vocal expressions by Asha Bhosle, the film has a flat plotline that picks up towards the end but has nothing exciting to offer.
PeepingMoon.com gives Raat Akeli Hai 3 Moons