Two murders happen on a rainy, unsuspecting night. The victims are a man and a woman – someone’s wife and someone’s husband. Events unfold, riddled with happenstance and no relation. Vikram Sethi (Sidharth Malhotra), a UK-based writer is accused of murdering his wife, Catherine, and Shekhar Sinha, a hotshot lawyer in Mumbai, in front of his wife, Maya Sinha (Sonakshi Sinha). Both narrate two versions of the same story, but only one of them is right.
Abhay Chopra’s Ittefaq has got its setting right – a rainy day, a large, decked-up house, two good-looking suspects, and twists for a classic whodunit. It follows the usual trope of subtly reminding the audience to have a keen eye on the details. Who wore what, when and why? Several questions follow, and more often than not, you’re hooked. The film attempts to be a racy thriller, but lets a bit of comedy and unnecessary scenes get in the way.
The film begins with Vikram’s car losing control, leaving him badly injured. There are a number of buildings close by, and he chooses the building where the Sinhas live, coincidentally when the watchman is away. There are many questions here already, in addition to the music reaching a crescendo every time there’s something amiss on screen, even before you could read it on the character’s face.
Much like the trailer, we get the sense that there’s more than what meets the eye. But if only the actors were as convincing as the dreaded murderers they’re accused of being, with a bit of madness that’s often tantamount to a crime thriller… Maya and Vikram tell their versions, but, while their story is amusing enough, one isn’t able to brush aside the feeling that they are two actors pretending to be characters who are, in turn, pretending to play innocent. Sidharth and Sonakshi’s substandard acting affects the film that could’ve otherwise worked.
Akshaye Khanna as the cop who doesn’t play nice with the suspects (there’s no good cop-bad cop routine with him) tries really hard. For every little action, he does much more than required – he squints harder to see details, frowns more to define his facial lines, grits more than required. Even his dialogues are exaggerated. “Tum jaise bhuton ko hum roz sikhte hai [we roast corn cobs like you everyday]” – is one of them. In the beginning, we get a view of this family man, but it seems rather unnecessary when all we really watch him do is grill the two suspects with corny lines or yell at his subordinates.
Ittefaq‘s plot may have sounded good on paper in many places, but it’s marred by predictability. It’s perhaps a Bollywood thing – directors forget that it’s always better to show and not tell. Wrought with dialogues that try to meld sentiments with profundity, the climax ends up being just about average.
However, there’s a good amount of time spent on details, with no loose ends. The Chekhov’s Gun is utilised well, something that one wouldn’t recall until it resurfaces later as a brainwave.
The use of lighting too, is fascinating to watch – employed as somewhat of a precursor to the mood of the character. Vikram, a writer with a not-so-credible past, is often seen in dimly lit rooms – whether it’s the Sinhas’ apartment, the stairwell in the building, or the jail room.
Maya, portrayed as a seductress in one version, and a grieving wife in another, is first seen as a deer caught in headlights when she quite literally stumbles in front of the police’s car. She moves on to be seen interrogated at Dev’s office, a stuffy, but brightly lit one.
It’s been a while since Bollywood came up with a good crime thriller, and Ittefaq isn’t one of them; it would be much easier to settle down with a James Hadley Chase book instead.
The Ittefaq review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.