Cast – Akshaye Khanna, Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha
- Directed by – Abhay Chopra
- Produced by – Shah Rukh Khan, Gauri Khan, Karan Johar, Renu Ravi Chopra, Hiroo Yash Johar
- Written by – Abhay Chopra, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehrotra
- Screenplay by – Abhay Chopra
- Cinematography – Michal Luka
- Edited by – Nitin Baid
- Production House – Dharma Productions, Red Chillies Entertainment, B.R. Studios
- Genre – Thriller/Mystery
- Duration – 1 hour 47 minutes
If you love murder mysteries, sensational whodunits, Ittefaq (2017) is the movie for you. It is now time for us to acknowledge that for all its glitz and glamour Bollywood has failed spectacularly when it comes to producing proper crime thrillers and mysteries. The few directors who have managed to show interest in the genre have fallen back on either the supernatural or bloodshed and violence to keep the audience entertained. And of course there is always the sensual item number with some voluptuous heroine to mask the inadequacy of the plot.
Abhay Chopra is one bold director. With Ittefaq, he brings us a complete no-nonsense mystery which starts rather than ends with a car chase. The movie rests solidly on good old forensics and the deductive skills of a cop. Ittefaq (2017) was inspired by Yash Chopra’s 1969 flick of the same name. We must admit that Abhay Chopra and the producers of the 2017 film have put in a tremendous effort into making the intrinsic elements of the mystery work. And the result is a superlative movie. Sadly, it may not be an outstanding success at the box office.
Plot – Or Not
Dead men don’t tell tales, they say. But spoilers do and nothing kills a thriller like spoilers. The stars and producers of Ittefaq and in fact the biggest names in Bollywood all rallied for a campaign “Say no to spoilers” in the days leading up to the release. So much so, that the film makers decided to do away with the customary Thursday release in UAE and the film has had no promotions yet. It is in deference to their wishes that we shall abstain from revealing any plot details here except perhaps what is freely available in the official trailer.
A high profile double murder case is under investigation by detective cop Dev (Akshay Khanna). The two witnesses Vikram (Sidharth Malhotra) and Maya (Sonakshi Sinha) are also the only two suspects. And both have two very different versions to recount. While we generally get the sense that neither is being completely honest, it falls upon Dev to unearth the truth.
Right at the heart of the plot is the fact that a man has been murdered. Nothing else matters, or at least that is what director Abhay Chopra will have us believe. Everything that a Bollywood flick can do to distract a viewer from the murder and finding a plausible explanation has been removed. Firstly, the film is a very short crisp one. No frills, no unnecessary subplots, no emotional atyachaar. No song-dance numbers (except the title song with the closing credits). A rather discordant leading pair, cast purposefully to dissuade any hint of romance. The plot and nothing but the plot.
Apart from the director, there are 3 others who deserve appreciation for the superlative work done on Ittefaq. These are the Director of Photography – Michal Luka, the Editor – Nitin Baid, and Background Music Director – BT. The exceptional use of shadow photography combined with the tight editing, and thrilling music is quite enough to keep the audience glued.
The reprisal of Namak Halal’s song ‘Raat Baaki Baat Baaki’ by Tanishk Bagchi is stunning, perhaps better than the original version.
Sonakshi’s expressions in Ittefaq come across as rather wooden, particularly when pitted against the excellent acting skills of Siddharth. Akshay, however, is the true hero. A balding, middle-aged but well-toned cop with a slightly misplaced sense of humour – this is the second time we find Akshay play this kind of a role (after Mom) and we are thrilled. He has completely reinvented himself and we like this current avatar.
Ittefaq is proof that Hindi cinema has come of age. But has the average Indian film goer? That is the question that will decide this Abhay Chopra film’s box office collections. As for you, we definitely recommend you spend 2 hours at the nearest theatre this weekend and watch this flick. But not if you live on a staple diet of dance, music and standard Bollywood masala.
Rating – ***