Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Madalsa Sharma, Girish Karnad, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Gopal Dutt, Indraneil Sengupta, Rajneish Duggal, Smita Jaykar
Director: Kaushik Ghatak
When the chief sleuth in the movie goes by the unlovely handle of STD, you know what you are in for. The full name is Samrat Tilakdhari, just in case you were wondering. And no, it doesn’t get any better.
There’s a tribute paid upfront to Sherlock Holmes, but the filmmakers are also fans of Robert Downey Jr’s playing of the great detective. Rajeev Khandelwal, who plays STD, is to be found in a ring, just the way Downey Jr did, pulping an opponent, and then making a young lady’s jaw drop by his rapid-fire deductions about where she is from, and how long she has travelled to get to him.
Turns out that the pretty Dimpy ( Madalsa) is here to ferry the detective back to Shimla where her wealthy father Mahendra Pratap Singh( Karnad) is being menaced by strange things. STD and his dear Watson, called Chakradhar Pandey aka CD ( Dutt) reach the estate, and a series of mysterious deaths begin, starting with the dad.
Khandelwal plays STD at an unintentionally funny full tilt. Which means he wears a trenchcoat ( all ‘tecs have to wear trenchcoats), but thankfully no trilby. He leaps about and speaks very fast, but cannot help the molasses-slow pace of ‘Samrat & Co’, which takes two-and-a-half hours to solve what should have been done in a 40 min episode.
The script allows for lots of silliness, and clueless characters, and sad clues. The combination would have been just right for a parody, but here everyone Is dead serious. Dead bodies tumble out of outhouses, bombs get placed in cars, girls strum guitars, and it is all meant to be suspenseful and shivery, as loud background music swells every now and then.
I’m all for murder mysteries and brainy sleuths, but this one made me slump in my chair. The biggest mystery remains : when will we get a great one?
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