Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Sidharth Malhotra, Akshaye Khanna
Director: Abhay Chopra
Running Time: 100 mins
Rating: 3.5 Stars
2017’s Ittefaq is inspired by the premise of the 1969 Ittefaq that was directed by Yash Chopra and produced by B.R. Chopra. A taut whodunit -1969’s Ittefaq had something fresh for that time – no songs and a gritty treatment meted out to a film with Hindi cinema’s newest heartthrob – Rajesh Khanna, fresh from his release of Aradhana! Starring alongside Rajesh Khanna was Nanda.
Forty-eight years later, Abhay Chopra grandson of B.R. Chopra returns as director to revisit the premise of a double murder suspense thriller which also has a brush with ‘co-incidence’ but with fresh new characters, twists and plot lines. Does it work?
Sidharth Malhotra is Vikram Sethi, a novelist based in London, who is in Mumbai for a book launch. The movie opens with a chase sequence where Vikram is fleeing from the clutches of the Mumbai police and ends up taking refuge someone’s flat. That someone is Maya Sinha (Sonakshi Sinha) and though reluctant at first, she lets him in. Moments later, Maya is found trying to stop a police car on the road and lead them to Vikram who is standing by her husband’s dead body. And so, Vikram is accused of a second murder on the same night, the first being that of his wife – which is why he was on the run in the first place. But Vikram Sethi is clear he is being framed.
Enter Dev Verma (Akshaye Khanna) – to crack this case -which has two versions from the same night. And he is given a timeframe of 3 days.
As the parallel narratives take over – one from Vikram and the other from Maya – it becomes hard to decide who is the actual murderer in this engrossing tale.
Ittefaq scores high on treatment and style – shades of grey and blue envelop the city landscape and frames with dappled lighting keep the intensity high. Hints of art deco buildings, winding staircases and the pouring rain make for a perfect setting for a murder mystery. As layers of the story unravel, the plot thickens and gets more intriguing. It’s a pleasure to see Akshaye Khanna back on the silverscreen as the brooding Dev Verma, a no nonsense cop who also in touch with his emotional side. And Akshaye Khanna pulls it off with nuance and finesse. Siddharth Malhotra and Sonakshi Sinha in their part suspicious, part vulnerable portrayal keep the guessing game alive till the end. With both characters sounding equally convincing with their version of the stories – reminiscent of Rashomon to some extent. The hitches would be that the staggered narration of the two versions spread over three days tend to break the flow at times and slows the pace a tad bit.
But on the whole, as a debut filmmaker, Abhay Chopra clearly shows he’s mastered his craft of intense storytelling and knows what it takes to make a gripping tale of murder work.