|Raat Akeli Hai Movie Review| Raat Akeli Hai Netflix Review|
BOTTOM LINE: Pacy, Persuasive Storytelling, Soaked In Suspense
SkinNSwear: No expletives, a bit of skin but only in pictures
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Murder Mystery|
What Is the Story About?
Thakur Raghubir Singh (Khalid Tyabji) is murdered on the night of his wedding (his second), and his pretty young widow Radha (Radhika Apte) becomes the obvious suspect. After all, she’s the one who stands to gain the most from the rich old man’s death. The large extended family of the murdered man want the woman behind bars, but hard-headed cop Jatil Yadav (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) isn’t buying the yarn. He suspects there’s more to the story than what presents itself on the surface. Digging around in the murky family affairs, he discovers that the Thakur family is as dysfunctional as it can get. Every member has an axe to grind and every closet has a skeleton to hide. Vikram Singh (Nishant Dahiya), the dead man’s nephew, had a roaring affair going with Radha behind the patriarch’s back. The unhinged son-in-law of the family (Gyanendra Tripathi), married to Raghubir’s daughter (Shweta Tripathi), hopes to inherit his father-in-law’s considerable assets, and thus resents Radha with visceral hate. The behaviour of the smattering of other close relatives is also quite suspect.
The girl maid of the house Chunni (Ria Shukla) lets Jatil in on an unsolved mystery from five years ago, which convinces him that the present day murder is definitely connected to the events of the past. To add to the murkiness, he finds that his own senior, SSP Lalji Shukla (Tigmanshu Dhulia) is in cahoots with local MLA Munna Raja (Aditya Srivastava), to bury the secrets of the past. What is Munna Raja’s connection to the crimes? Is Radha’s seeming innocence and fearless defiance a facade to hide her guilt? Finally, who is the actual killer?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte are at the top of their game in Raat Akeli Hai. Radhika Apte has given a measured performance as Radha, delivering the spunky portrayal with poise and presence.
Nawazuddin imbues Jatil’s no nonsense cop with a dry acerbity and sardonic cynicism. Most of the time, he’s prickly as a cactus and simmering in perpetual anger. He goes through life with a sullen face and a keen readiness to bite everyone’s head off. Most of his angst comes from not finding a suitable girl to marry and his disgruntled mother’s relentless nagging to marry and settle down.
Tigmanshu Dhulia, Aditya Shrivastav, Shweta Tripathi, Shivani Raghuvanshi and Riya Shukla are all good in their respective roles. Nishant Dahiya, as Vikram Singh, is particularly good. He stands out in the huge ensemble cast. As does Shreedhar Dubey, in his portrayal of Jatil Yadav’s junior, Nandu. Ila Arun returns to the screen after a long time, and immediately grabs our attention as Jatil’s long-suffering mother. She’s not one to be cowed down by her ill-humoured son’s perpetual moroseness.
To sum it up, Raat Akeli Hai is a well-enacted film, with every actor pouring their best into their roles.
On the outside, Raat Akeli Hai is a cut and dry whodunit. But dig deeper, and you find that the story centres on the discontent simmering just below the surface of the Thakur family. Scratch the surface and the bitterness spills out in a stinky mess of dysfunction and depravity. The story takes the audience on a tumultuous ride of secrets, betrayals and infidelities, sucking us into a dark vortex of shocking revelations, before culminating in a rather tame climax.
The storytelling is persuasive and relentlessly gripping. If it falters anywhere, it’s in the rather subdued discovering of decidedly startling truths, and in the lackluster final revelation of the suspense. A little more cinematic flourish would have made Raat Akeli Hai a truly memorable movie (think the all-time greats Jewel Thief or Teesri Manzil, and how they reveal the final suspense – classic Vijay Anand). The end could definitely have been better.
That said, Raat Akeli Hai never loses grip for even an iota of a second. It moves ahead at scorching speed, from establishing characters quickly in the first five minutes itself, to hurling surprises at us when we least expect them. Although the surprises could have been spread out better. The dialogues, by Smita Singh of Sacred Games fame, are sharp, witty and blistering. The story, again by Smita, seems to have been inspired by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; the latter was far more depraved, of course.
The narrative is punctuated with spots of humour, especially in the bickering between Jatil Yadav and his mother. In the course of their bickering, we also learn why Jatil is named so. The word means hard, complex – not a good enough name to show off in a marriage biodata. Jatil is also consumed by insecurity owing to his dark skin, and applies a daily coat of Fair And Lovely from his secret stash hidden behind the bathroom mirror. It is a welcome role reversal of sorts.
Debutant director Honey Trehan has done a fabulous job of keeping the narrative taut and pacy. Though not exactly edge-of-the-seat, it is gripping enough to not let the viewer look away for even a minute. A few inconsistencies aside, Raat Akeli Hai is a well-constructed and meticulously detailed movie, a welcome addition to the Indian OTT-verse.
Music and Other Departments?
The cinematography of Raat Akeli Hai is the star of the show. Pankaj Kumar conjures up intensely compelling shots every turn of the way. The opening sequences are especially stunning. The barrenness of the surroundings, the disquieting quiet of the night, and the all-engulfing darkness — a darkness pierced with the withering menace of the twinkling truck lights. Never have truck lights appeared more chilling than in this, the opening sequence of Raat Akeli Hai.
Pankaj Kumar’s superb cinematography transforms the imposing Thakur mansion from a thing of beauty to an edifice of terrifying dread — one look at it and you get the inkling that it hides horrifying secrets in its bosom. While the day time shots are terrific, it is the night time shots that are remarkable. A lot of the action in Raat Akeli Hai occurs in the night time. Here too, Pankaj Kumar’s camera wields magic, suffusing the inky blackness with carefully constructed incandescence. Truly commendable work!
The music by Sneha Khanwalkar is good. A. Sreekar Prasad’s editing is finely executed.
Performances of all the actors
The excellent cinematography
The sharp pacing
Low on cinematic flourish in the final reveal
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Raat Akeli Hai Review by Binged Bureau
Raat Akeli Hai Movie Review| Raat Akeli Hai Netflix Review|
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