Ittefaq movie cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Sidharth Malhotra, Akshaye Khanna
Ittefaq movie director: Abhay Chopra
Ittefaq movie rating: 3 stars
A good murder mystery leads you by the hand but doesn’t advertise its wares, takes care to keep it taut, and delivers a satisfactory payoff. Despite a few niggles, this brand new Ittefaq, which takes broad pointers from the 1969 original of the same name, manages to pull it off.
On a rainy Mumbai night, a wounded man is on the run, cops hot on his heels. Or should I say, his fancy wheels: he’s driving a Merc, with stylish threads to the match the car, and he is in a tearing hurry to get away.
On the same night, a terrified girl runs out on to the road. In her flat, right next to a shattered glass table, lies a dead body. We soon get to know that there are a couple more deaths implicating the lead players, and the good old dance—who, why, what, where– starts.
These two, the man-on-run, best selling author Vikram Sethi (Malhotra), and the petrified Maya (Sinha) are the suspects. Their crime: murder. Of course, each claims they are innocent: he says she is lying. She says he is. In short order, investigating officer Dev (Khanna) arrives, and ups the heat.
The gaps in conflicting evidence are usually filled with scared people, white lies and half-truths, and the person or persons who know who did it. We get Roshomon-like differing points-of-view from both Vikram and Maya, and as time passes, more clues show up. Was there another person in Maya’s flat? Is she as innocent as she claims to be? Is he protesting too much? Who is the real killer?
There are a few problems here. Initially, the background music calling attention to itself is not promising. The thread of inept cops and their banter starts off as annoying, not just because we’ve seen this kind of stuff before, but also because the quantum makes it feel superfluous. Dev is prone to making smart-alecky comments, and you can see the dialogues being pressed into the service of old-style one-liners. They all start sounding too expository, dotting the Is and underlining the Ts. And a couple of elements end being clunkier than they should.
But what makes up for all these things is that the film manages to sustain itself post that dreaded interval, the one thing that can sink mysteries. In fact, there’s more briskness and confidence in the way the all the characters come across, and very little time is wasted as we proceed to the punchy end.
Both Malhotra and Sinha start off a tad shaky, and then steady up. Khanna, who deadpans his way through the best lines in the film, is clearly having a blast. There are small touches of fresh humour, and enough suspense to keep things ticking over. And there’s real surprise in the big reveal.
Ittefaq is that rare Bollywood creature: a smart, gripping whodunit which keeps us guessing.