A stellar cast of actors. Amitabh Bachchan, perfect as public prosecutor Lateef Zaidi who must reel off pages of charges and evidence in his famous baritone. Veterans Annu Kapoor (as defence lawyer Paramjeet Bhullar ), Dhritiman Chatterjee (as Justice Acharya) and Raghubir Yadav as Hariya Jatav the hangman.
Who else do you need in the room to mete out justice?
An accused and a crime of course.
Writer-director Rumi Jafry sets up the atmospherics to build suspense. Snowbound lanes that are supposed to lead to Delhi in two different directions, an obviously successful ad world tycoon (Emraan Hashmi as Sameer Mehra) behind the wheel of a BMW who chooses the shorter route, and a stranger who welcomes him to join him and his friends at a sprawling, secluded bungalow.
It’s a foursome that meets every evening. With a speech-challenged brother (Siddhant Kapoor as Joe) and his supposedly irresistible sister Aana (Rhea Chakraborty) who double up as housekeepers/domestic help/partners in crime.
With mobile networks out of the question and a landline that’s down, the eeriness grows as the evening progresses.
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Just what do the judge, the prosecutor, the defence and the hangman, all long retired, want from the cheeky ad executive who has turned up as their latest guest?
Amitabh Bachchan, cast like a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, with an unerring eye for detail and the ability to make accurate deductions, makes an entry that holds the promise of a cerebral mystery.
Since it’s a thriller, one can’t give away the plot. Except to say that after that elaborately laid out spookiness, an interesting cat-n-mouse game fizzles out into unbelievably lengthy monologues, especially from Amitabh Bachchan, that ultimately lead to disappointing vigilante boredom.
By the time it ends, you ask, would any man with a recent brush with crime put himself in such a spot? Did the crime match the judgement? There’s no time to seek answers as annoyance at word-heaviness of the self-appointed dispensers of justice overtakes whatever the crime.
Writers Ranjit Kapoor and Rumi Jafry’s character sketch of the ‘accused’ taps unabashedly into Emraan Hashmi’s brand of self-assured cheekiness carried off with a characteristic roving eye.
In that huge bungalow, there’s little room for romance except to go into a flashback as old as James Hadley Chase and keeps drawing on Emraan’s rakish screen image.
After ruling out romance and a jolly good mystery story, what’s left are performances. While Siddhant adds to the ambience, Rhea Chakraborty and Krystle D’Souza (as Natasha Oswal, the flashback element) are too vapid to make a substantial contribution.
The cast of veterans led by Amitabh Bachchan don’t require endorsement. But in the absence of a fast-paced thriller that leaves you dissatisfied, you can’t help asking wistfully, what was the point of so much well-delivered verbosity?