Synopsis – Nikhil Sood begins his shift in the control room just like any other day. And he ends up taking a call that gives him the creeps. As he struggles to make sense of the strange nature of the call, he finds himself right in the middle of a sticky situation.
My Take – For decades, despite the clichés and over dramatics attached to them, Indian audience has continued to lap up the unrealistic vigilante justice portrayed in films, especially the ones which tend to portray how the corrupt system fails to protect the lower and the middle class from the crimes of the powerful and wealthy. This latest film which is now streaming on ZEE5 albeit grounded is no different at least in theme.
Marking as the third feature directorial venture for Rensil D’Silva, following star studded commercial failures like Kurbaan (2009) and Ungli (2014), whose standing in the industry comes largely from co-writing the screenplay of Rang De Basanti (2006), the film has a set up that contains all the makings of a engaging conventional thriller – a cop, a victim, a mysterious caller, a drug deal in process, among other things.
Yet, unfortunately none of these elements add up to anything particularly fascinating or simply make for a neat edge-of-the-seat thriller, as what begins with a bang just ends in a whimper, alas failing to impress.
While the narrative is backed by a familiar yet a concept strong enough to maintain intrigue, the film’s sloppy execution and over reliance on the performance of seasoned actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Neena Gupta, and Sakshi Tanwar to carry the load, ends up just hampering its promising aspects.
Set over a single rainy night, the story follows Senior Police Officer Nikhil Sood (Manoj Bajpayee) who begins his shift at the Mumbai Police Emergency Control Room, just like any other day. While the troubled relationship between his wife Prerna (Sakshi Tanwar) and his teenage son Dhruv (Svar Kamble) weighs heavily on his mind, as the two once again ended up in an argument after he left, Nikhil finds himself in unexpected situation when he ends up taking a distress call from a hysterical woman (Neena Gupta) who wants to end her life owing to a personal tragedy.
But when the caller begins to get a little too personal, Nikhil finds himself stepping out of the boundaries to keep the world from learning about a dark secret that could put his whole life in jeopardy.
The first few minutes, set within the confines of the emergency control room, is interestingly done. But as long as the identity of the caller isn’t revealed and her motives not spelt out, the narrative sustains interest. Post that, and with the revelation of the caller’s personal vendetta against Nikhil, the film goes into a free fall with each every twist becoming predictable. The dialogues become cumbersome and one knows the exact manner in which scores will be settled.
The premise of the film is not novel anyway, and what is worse, there’s simply not enough spark in the screenplay, and what could have been a thrill-a-minute ride becomes increasingly tedious. It is apparent that the filmmakers are focusing on the atmospherics like the rains, the empty, wet streets reflecting the city lights, and of course, the caller’s mind games with Nikhil.
Unfortunately, none of these can overcome the uninspired writing. Things get more diffused with the track involving Dhruv and his drug-peddling associate, especially with all the unexciting running and chasing, and the film never explains why a seasoned policeman like Nikhil acts like a one-man army, especially when he has his colleagues all around him, and they could have helped him all along.
This is supposed to be a thriller, but thrills are hard to find in its running time of 104 minutes.
Without a doubt, Manoj Bajpayee’s performance is the major highlight of the film. While his portrayal is quite similar to that of Srikant Tiwari from The Family Man, Bajpayee makes him likable and root able. Neena Gupta has always been a great performer, however here she is let down by thin characterization. It also doesn’t help that the screenplay calls upon her to repeatedly spell out her bereavement.
Sakshi Tanwar has least screen time among the three, but manages to extract the most out of her role. Svar Kamble is alright. On the whole, ‘Dial 100’ is an unexciting crime thriller that is excruciatingly predictable.
Directed – Rensil D’Silva
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 104 minutes