Have you ever slow cooked any form of food or meat? Slow cooking is the art of culinary, where the food needs to be cooked slowly, at a low to moderate temperature. The benefit of slow cooking is that the food becomes really tender, with the intended flavour getting infused thoroughly over it. The major problem with this style of cooking is that sometimes it leaves the food overcooked or uneven. A murder mystery is essentially a slow-cooked meal. The optimum amount of suspense, a couple of red herrings strewn around for misdirection and finally a climax that hits the ball out of the park – These are the essential ingredients of a stupendous murder mystery. Any misses from the right amount of ingredients and the mystery gets spoiled. Thankfully, this one gets it right! The debutant director Honey Trehan’s ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ is a remarkable murder mystery and one of the best in the genre, that has come out of the stables of Hindi films, in a really long time. It hits the nail hard and to the exact point.

A murder occurs in a family that has secrets of its own. Inspector Jatil Yadav, played by Nawazuudin Siddiqui realises that every member of the family has a motive which could be a reason to kill the patriarch. As he begins his investigation, every clue points towards the most obvious suspect – the patriarch’s mistress turned wife Radha. Even Radha, played by Netflix’s very own Radhika Apte, seems to have given up hope, as she silently waits for her conviction. How Jatil solves this complex murder mystery, forms the crux of the story. The movie has its roots embedded in the last year’s classic whodunit ‘Knives Out’ (2019) and Jack Nicholson’s classic thriller ‘Chinatown’ (1974). But the similarities end there. ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ is a thriller that keeps you on the edge of the seat, with its slow burn and captivating tale of the murder most foul.

Instead of the film focusing on the murder extensively, it allows the peripheral characters to build their story. Jatil’s mother who holds his son’s dark complexion as the main reason for him not getting able to marry. Even Jatil has this grudge as he is seen to be applying fairness cream on his face, kept hidden behind the mirror. The primary characters, the family members, they seem to have an ulterior motive against Radha, as she becomes the de-facto owner of the estate, after her husband’s murder. The difference in societal strata runs rampantly in the UP hinterlands and its quite evident from the way Radha is treated in the family and Jatil is treated by his seniors and politicians. Eventually, when the truth is revealed, it becomes obvious that even the most abused, ill-treated members of the family are part of an elaborate scheme of systematic abuse. Perhaps that’s what patriarchy does to the family. 

The director Honey Trehan is one of the leading casting directors of the Hindi film industry. He manages to pull a casting coup of actors who perform like they mean business. The film has an enviable ensemble cast that consists of actors of the likes of Shweta Tripathi, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Ila Arun, Padmavati Rao, Riya Shukla, Aditya Srivastava, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Swanand Kirkire. Every actor here plays their role perfectly to the letter T. Not a single pretence, not a false step anywhere in the acting domain. Movie aficionados will get goosebumps to see Tigmanshu Dhulia and Nawazuudian Siddiqui in the same frame again, after ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’(2012). Nawaz does a great job as Inspector Jatil. Radhika Apte once again proves why she’s one of the brilliant actors that we have today. Shivani Raghuvanshi and Padmavati Rao do extremely well. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography effectively captures the sombre mood of the screenplay, written by Smita Singh, also credited for the story and dialogue. Sneha Khanwalkar’s music is chilling, especially the songs Ghoom Charkhya and Jaago.

If you’re a fan of noirs and thrillers, if murder mystery excites you, then ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ is the perfect watch for you. One of the best Hindi films on Netflix. 

‘Raat Akeli Hai’ now streaming on Netflix worldwide. Running time 149 minutes, Parental Guidance = Adult for mature viewing, violence, strong language and sexual violence.

 

The Cinemawala Rating: 4/5

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