Synopsis – An author struggling with his failed marriage and a writer’s block lands himself in major trouble, after a blackmailer threatens to reveal his true identity. At the same time, he meets a beautiful young girl with a dark past. Together, can they overcome their demons and live happily ever after?
My Take – I may not share this opinion with many, but when it comes to exploring the thriller genre in Hindi cinema, I have often found films tagged with lower scopes, expectations and lesser star value to do comparatively well when it comes down to widening the horizons of the genre and not playing by the rules.
For example films like Hide & Seek (2010), Samrat & Co. (2014), Bypass Road (2019), Game Over (2019) and Yeh Saali Aashiqui (2019), who haven’t done well commercially by an extent, yet each of these releases brought something unique to the table in their storytelling and techniques which tried to break the staple film-making ordinance.
Such was my also expectation from this feature writing and directorial debut of Amin Hajee, a character actor most popularly known as Bagha the mute drummer in the Oscar nominated Lagaan (2001). Unfortunately, this one isn’t one of them.
Though he starts the film off fairly well creating the intrigue and building up the anticipation around the plot, things begin go haywire as it progresses, as we are forced to make sense of the squandering screenplay.
While director Hajee does deserve praise for attempting a fresh take on the genre, as a writer, he also deserves flak, even with the unexpected twist at the end, for taking an excruciating 141 minutes long route to untangle the mystery, which is clenched by a veneer-thin screenplay loaded with 80s clichés and worn-out tropes. Though fellow Lagaan cast members Aamir Khan, Raj Zutshi and Aditya Lakhia appear and put in their bits as real life friends, but salvaging this film was, sadly, beyond their combined powers.
The story follows Kabir Kapoor (Kunal Kapoor), a well renowned author of a motivational bestseller, who has been struggling to finish the sequel of his book for the past two years as his ex-wife, Rashmi (Vidya Malvade), who he caught cheating with his publisher, continues on a financial rampage, as she is convinced that Kabir has been maintaining himself financially by ghost writing a successful series of Hindi pulp thrillers on the side, featuring a vigilante character named Zaraan Khan.
Desperate for a change in scenery, Kabir decides to retreats to his Panchgani bungalow to hammer out the promised book within three months, however, a chance meeting with Suhana (Amyra Dastur), brings the much need light to his gloom life. And as the newly found relationship begins to settle in, trouble arrives in the form of Ricky Rosario (Karim Hajee), a crooked private detective/reporter hired by Rashmi, who accuses Kabir for a slew of revenge killings eerily similar to Zaraan Khan’s crime novels. To make matters worse, when a spate of murder hit the otherwise sleepy town of Panchgani, Kabir ends up becoming the prime suspect.
There’s a genuine intent here to make a different psychological thriller and director Hajee’s produces some spark but unfortunately it is mostly uneven and convoluted leading to a loss of interest. While the first half struggles to find a rhythm, it picks up pace and gets grip in the second half, but only for a while.
Even some characters go incognito post the interval. What happens to Rashmi and publisher? Why does Kabir keep all the prosthetic make up hidden from the world? What’s the outcome to the murder of the supposed influential person in the first scene of the film? Here, director Hajee decides to just ignore them all.
Another aspect that hurts this film badly is its length. The film unnecessarily drag on adding characters, songs and scenes which all amount to nothing when the climax comes punching in.
The much promoted Har Funn Maula song featuring Aamir Khan and Elli AvrRam is indeed enjoyable. However, in a thriller, you’re more engrossed in what’s happening and what you might miss out on, rather than listening to the songs. They were totally unnecessary and could have been easily chopped off and used just for promotional purposes.
Performance wise, the much underrated Kunal Kapoor easily slips into his character. Though his varied looks don’t get that much importance in the screenplay, the seemed like something the film could have easily capitalized on to add to the intrigue and mystery factor. Amyra Dastur also manages to put in a good performance, and brings a variety of emotions to the table.
In other roles, Karim Hajee, Ashwini Kalsekar, Raj Zutshi, and Atul Kulkarni bring in decent performances given their minimal screen time. While in non-substantial roles, Vidya Malvade and Neha Mahajan are wasted. On the whole, ‘Koi Jaane Na’ is a substandard thriller letdown by a squandering screenplay.
Directed – Amin Hajee
Rated – NR
Run Time – 141 minutes