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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dial 100 review: Manoj Bajpayee, Neena Gupta get perfect score but film doesn’t add up

Dial 100 review: Manoj Bajpayee and Neena Gupta lead a team of accomplished performers who are let down comprehensively by the writing.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi |
Updated: August 7, 2021 9:55:42 am
dial 100 reviewDial 100 is streaming on ZEE5.

Dial 100 movie cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Neena Gupta, Sakshi Tanwar, Nandu Madhav
Dial 100 movie director: Rensil D’Silva
Dial 100 movie rating: 2 stars

On a stormy night in Mumbai, a call comes in on the Dial 100 helpline in a police station, where a night-shift-as-usual is underway. The caller is a woman (Neena Gupta), on the verge of full-blown hysteria, threatening to do something drastic; the cop (Manoj Bajpayee) who fields the call is already tense, dealing with a teary wife (Sakshi Tanwar) and a young son who’s gone and done something he had sworn off. Right from the first, we sense there’s something off with the call, and the woman making it. Of course, there’s much more to it, and that’s the whole point. We settle down to a racy, pacy tale.

The premise is juicy, with all the elements of a crime thriller in place. Unhinged-sounding people brandishing guns. Troubled cops hot on the chase. Rain-slicked roads. And bang bang. The actors are all first rate. Manoj Bajpayee is on a roll these days, with his previous outing, season 2 of ‘Family Man’ still riding high in our memory bank. On this second wind, Neena Gupta is getting to do stuff she’s never done before, and she’s revelling in it. Nandu Madhav always adds to any film he is in. And Sakshi Tanwar’s acting skills have never been in any doubt.

This tale of crime and punishment, drugs and death, entitlement and justice, which clocks in at less than two hours, shouldn’t have had a single lax moment. But the writing comprehensively lets down the performers; the feeling of edginess and tension which should have rightfully been ratcheted up through the film, kicks in all too rarely. Characters in this kind of film that relies on rapid twists and turns have to ricochet off each other, not deliver dialogue as though written on a page. In short, it needs to zip. And not allow us enough time to notice either contrivances, or loose ends.

When Bajpayee’s stunned face reveals the suppressed turmoil going on inside him, that’s a moment. There are more — when Tanwar breaks down at a climactic point; when Gupta speaks through a mix of heartbreak and tears. ‘Dial 100’ should have added up to much more.

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