A desert, a space of nothingness marred by shrill voices of a group of people. Satyaveer Randhawa’s voice booms in the background, “Lakhot. Shayad aapne Lakhot ka naam kahin kabhi kisi akhbaar mein padha hoga” (Lakhot. You might have heard of the place, maybe in a newspaper, ages ago).
Manorama Six Feet Under is a criminally underrated film by Navdeep Singh, who made his debut with the movie. It’s usually classified under the genre of neo-noir, primarily because it twists the crime drama genre in an unpredictable way, especially with regard to Hindi movies. It’s also visually appealing. Simple shots like when the characters of Abhay Deol and Raima Sen are interacting with each other in front of a temple-like structure, and when Deol moves in to kiss Sen. It’s pretty. Another one is when Sen and Deol’s characters are conversing with each other in a dark room at the latter’s place. It’s the scene of the big reveal. The sequence when Sen’s character finally discloses her true identity to Deol. The revelation is done in the dark, in secret, as all revelations (of that nature) are usually done.
Then there are the performances. It’s a solid cast of actors. Abhay Deol, Vinay Pathak, Raima Sen, Gul Panag, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Even Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes an appearance as a small-time thug.
Abhay Deol, who is making a comeback to the big screen with Nanu Ki Jaanu, has never been a ‘star kid’ in the way the term has come to be defined by the media as well as Bollywood. His personal life has not been extensively covered, but that is largely due to the fact that Deol has rarely been a part of a big Bollywood film. The only exception being Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011). But that has never stopped the actor from choosing the kind of roles he’s drawn towards, even if the said project is not helmed by a seasoned filmmaker. Navdeep Singh’s Manorama Six Feet Under is an example. Singh, who is now known primarily for directing Anushka Sharma’s thriller NH10, had forayed into the Hindi film industry with Manorama Six Feet Under.
The film revolves around the character of Satyaveer Randhawa (played by Abhay Deol), who is a failed writer, having penned the lone book titled Manorama. But things change when a woman knocks on his door in the dead of the night and says that she wants him to find out some things about her husband.
Deol is an actor who knows what is required of him. He is an intelligent actor who has the ability to become another person. A basic requirement from an actor, you would say. Also, a basic requirement that has not been fulfilled by several actors in the industry. As Satyaveer, Deol excels in making you go all the way with him on the slightly scary journey. Manorama, for the most part, feels like a good detective novel. And Singh couldn’t have asked for a better leading man than Deol.