Atmospherics is the main performer.
The visual of a still bull with handsome horns and body twisted, the parched emptiness of the desert and vultures circling above. It’s the mood for torture, murder, barrenness, loneliness. Take a bow, cinematographer Shreya Dev Dube. Also Ajay Jayanthi whose score, so much in sync with the rustic rawness, emits the feel of a Clint Eastwood western transplanted to Rajasthan.
Police inspector Surekha Singh (Anil Kapoor) in the border village of Munabao in Rajasthan knows instinctively that the two sudden crimes under his watch are different.
Drugs and dacoits leave a particular footprint.
A vengeful, horrific, brutal killing smells different.
Blood, violence, a storm is on its way.
Writer-director Raj Singh Chaudhary collaborates with editor Aarti Bajaj to tell his noir thriller with crisp harshness. Anurag Kashyap contributes with biting dialogues that may have their trademark sprinkle of ma..chu..s and chu…s but several one-liners hit home sharply. “I’m a Rajput, not a Nawab that I can bend over….”, “Tiger naam se sher nahi banta, kutta hi rehega”, “My caste is hidden by the uniform” are a few examples of how socially potent simply written lines can be.
With neither preachy speech nor lingering gruesomeness but with deft, straightforward story-telling and telling silences, Chaudhary’s tale of revenge makes stark stops at an inspector’s unambitious career with chances of promotion as bleak as the landscape around him. On infertility in a woman, it’s always her fault. On infidelity, a man’s privilege, a woman’s dishonour.
Restrained, humourless performances by Anil Kapoor with trademark professionalism, a brooding Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor as Siddharth, the city-slick outsider whose presence in Munbao is soon explained, Satish Kaushik as Bhure, the inspector’s assistant and Jitendra Joshi as Panna Ram with the barren wife (Fatima Sana Shaikh with spunk, resignation and longing in her eyes), blend well with the terrain.
There are a couple of bothersome ‘why’s that come to mind. Whether The Great Indian Murder or Thar, why all Rajasthani wives must wear come-hither cholis with a sliver of a dupatta, one isn’t sure. You also wonder why a tenacious policeman with sharp investigative skills, who shoots like a marksman and has the luck of the devil (he lives while colleagues around him go down like flies), is in a rut in a remote village.
But they’re minor worries. By the time you get to the climax, you know that Chaudhary is a director with a feel for cinema. Will be keeping tabs on his work.
Watch Thar Trailer: