Synopsis – A female police officer in the small hill town of Mussorie and a forensic expert are together on the trail of a serial killer.
My Take – Released two years ago, at a time when cinemas were shutting down all over the country, Malayalam film, Forensic, co-written and co-directed by Akhil Paul and Anas Khan, and starring Tovino Thomas and Mamta Mohandas, managed to be commercially successful.
Mainly because, despite shortcomings especially in the form of a weak climax, the film managed to enthrall audience as an immersive thriller that completes the job it set out to do, provide entertainment.
But while the Hindi remake, which released on ZEE5 two nights ago, sees director Vishal Furia and writers Adhir Bhat, Vishal Kapoor and Ajit Jagtap use the same basic premise, retain the protagonists’ job roles and improve upon the original film’s certain elements, from the gruesomeness of the crime to the pacing, it also veers away downwards with an added romantic track between the leads and an equally preposterous third act twist in regards to the offender’s identity.
A twist so bonkers and unrelentingly implausibly handled that you can’t but help but physically shake your heads and exclaim in pain, why?
Sure, the science between the shocking twist is probable, but it is the flat execution of the situation which mauls a reasonably good concept beyond recognition. Turning the film into the sort of a whodunit that’s so busy trying to outwit the original film and everyone else that it eventually outwits itself hilariously. In comparison, the Malayalam original, while not being experimental in the genre, was a far more sensitive and braver film than the remake.
To director Furia‘s credit the film is nonetheless engaging and boasts of good performances from its leads, Radhika Apte and Vikrant Massey, even though the latter’s character treads the thin line between whimsical and nonsensical.
However, it does intensify my worry about upcoming thriller remakes – HIT: The First Case (a remake of 2020 Telugu film HIT: The First Case) starring Rajkummar Rao and Sanya Malhotra, and Mission Cinderella (a remake of 2018 Indian Tamil film Ratsasan) starring Akshay Kumar and Rakul Preet Singh.
Set in Mussoorie, the story follows Sub-Inspector Megha Sharma (Radhika Apte) and Johnny Khanna (Vikrant Massey), a star forensic specialist, who find themselves assigned together to solve a spate of murders that rocks the mountain town. Dubbed the Birthday killer due to his modus operandi of targeting only preteen girls on their respective birthdays.
The situation is further complicated as the two were previously in a relationship until tragedy struck in the family. Until a few years ago, Megha’s sister was happily married to Johnny’s brother Abhay (Rohit Roy) with twin girls.
However when one of the girls accidentally dies, and the mother ends up committing suicide, Megha ends up blaming Abhay’s irresponsibility for their deaths and breaks up with Johnny. But as the bodies continue to pile up, the two are forced to put their difference aside and stop the serial killer.
Without a doubt, the film retains some interesting bits from his original film. But like any self-respecting thriller that cracks the case at the interval mark, the film spends the next hour debunking its own design and revealing the actual killer. There is logic in neither, but the real problem lies in the treatment and execution.
In the Malayalam film, the two principal characters are set in a different scenario. The policewoman is the ex-wife of the forensic examiner’s elder brother. Here, the pair is turned into ex-lovers who broke up presumably because of irreconcilable differences. The sparks between former lovers who are now partners in a crime investigation could have led to interesting situation, but here, the development does not trigger any major waves other than a few wrongly placed romantic scenes.
Which also brings me to the film’s most inane detour from the original which is its third act, where the film heads into such unbelievable heights with its twist that it’s not only shocking but hilarious. Whether you have watched the original or not, there is a high chance that you are going to be mind-blown by how the reveal is presented, and not exactly in good-awesome way.
While I can appreciate how the makers decided to go for such a bonkers twist, yet it was presented so hilariously that it could be termed detrimental to a certain section of the society. It’s the worst that can happen to thrillers, honestly. If you start laughing at the absurdity of the twists being presented to you, you know you have failed with giving your audiences something engaging.
Performance wise, both Radhika Apte and Vikrant Massey are the backbone of the film as the duo are convincing leads. Massey seems to be having fun and terrific as the skilled, confident and sensitive Johnny, while Apte may not be one of the most challenging characters, yet manages to do justice to the role with her flawless screen presence.
An underrated actress in her own right, Prachi Desai plays a pivotal part of the film and manages to shine bright even in ridiculous situations. Kudos to her for attempting to do something completely opposite of the modest characters she’s known to feature in. In supporting roles, Vindu Dara Singh, Anant Mahadevan, Rohit Roy and Narendra Gupta lend able support. On the whole, ‘Forensic’ is a flawed thriller ruined by its side-tracks and baffling twist.
Directed – Vishal Furia
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 135 minutes