Movie Name: Raat Akeli Hai
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte
Director: Honey Trehan
A truck topples a car. The truck driver mercilessly kills the two occupants of the car, the woman by slashing her throat and the driver by smashing his head with a huge boulder, and later pours acid over the body to leave no traces behind. Soon, the story moves five years ahead with Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s mother trying to find a ‘decent bride’ for her son. But their conversation is interrupted when Jatil Yadav (Nawazuddin) gets a call to report to duty, as a wealthy old man, Rughubeer Singh (Khalid Tyagii), has been murdered.
That’s how Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte-starrer Raat Akeli Hai begins its two-and-a-half-hour journey. The prime suspect of the murder is Raghubeer’s young newlywed wife Radha (Radhika Apte), who he married an hour back, and had all the motives to finish off the oldie. Radha was the old man’s mistress and the entire family dislikes her. Moreso because after his death, she becomes the sole owner of the property.
Set in Kanpur, Raat Akeli Hai is a locked-room mystery that keeps its viewers hooked, as Inspector Jatil Yadav tries to unearth the truth and find out who the killer is. It has to be like that, he is our hero after all. At one point, you might feel Jatil getting entrapped in the web of lies but his instincts eventually turn out to be true.
Half-way through the film, viewers might feel the culprit has been caught but soon you get to realise the story is far from over and there is more to this than meets the eye. Further investigation links the twin murders (we told you about in the beginning) with Raghubeer’s death and skeletons come tumbling out of the closet.
A still from Raat Akeli Hai.
Raat Akeli Hai marks casting director Honey Trehan’s directorial debut and he nicely keeps the viewers engaged with interesting twists. The film focusses on Singh family’s story and how gradually Jatil manages to get the family secrets out. The ‘Raat’ part was beautifully utilised within the film. Credit to Trehan for that.
The film boasts of a good ensemble cast, which includes Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Aditya Srivastava, Ila Arun, Shweta Tripathi, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Nishant Dahiya, among others.
Nawazuddin is at his usual best. He is perfect as Jatil Yadav, investigating the case. He might not agree but he is insecure about his dark complexion. You get to know about it when you see him applying Fair & Lovely – oops, GLow & Lovely – the tube of which is hidden behind his mirror. He might tell his mother he is not interested in getting married but actually is waiting to meet the love of his life.
Radhika Apte might be one of the prime suspects but is also a victim. The complexities of her character, which lasted for the initial half-an-hour, was brought out nicely by the actor. Nawazuddin and Radhika, who have worked before in a few films and series, had subtle chemistry in the film. When Jatil makes an advance towards Radha and she turns her face away. Jatil asks if he is too plain Jane for her, but she surprises him and the viewers with her response, “Zung khaya hai hamara dil (My heart is covered with rust).” The undercurrent of sexual tension between the two, which the makers deliberately underplayed, was interesting to watch.
Actor Aditya Srivastava, who we’ve seen aplenty on CID, plays MLA Munna Raja, who is the victim’s friend and confidant. And, just like any other politician, is unapologetic to use his connections to turn the course of the investigation. Veteran actress and singer Ila Arun is seen as Jatil’s mother, who is obsessed with getting him married. Honestly, we would have liked to see a little more of Ila in the film.
Shivani Raghuvanshi of Made In Heaven fame is also one of the suspects and plays a pivotal role in the film. Most of the characters in the movie have their own back story, which gives the narrative momentum.
Writer Smita Singh deserves credit toot. She did a great job with the story and kept the thrill alive till the end. That the viewer keeps guessing who the killer is, is proof. Though the film gets dark in parts, quite literally, it holds your attention. When the mystery unfolds, it doesn’t leave you shocked as the entire storyline had prepared you for this end. Yet, it doesn’t disappoint you. Lovers of the whodunit genre will like this unconventional mystery-thriller.
If you love watching murder-mysteries and guessing who the killer is, don’t miss this one.
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