Bhagavati Samarth in association with Shringar Films P. Ltd.'s ENCOUNTER ï¿½ THE KILLING tells the story of an honest inspector who believes in reforming criminals instead of punishing them. A police crackdown on underworld elements leads to the arrest of a young boy, who reveals the names and addresses of his three accomplices, who are sharp shooters in the underworld.
Inspector Bharucha (Naseeruddin Shah) and his team lay a trap on the accomplices in a hide-out. Bharucha leaves strict instructions with his subordinates not to kill them in an encounter, but they are forced to fire at point blank range when the criminals try to escape. In the process, Bharucha ends up firing at one of the boys, who succumbs to the gun shots.
A highly repentant Bharucha is unable to forgive himself, when he learns that the boy he shot had planned to surrender to the police. Bharucha's concern for the dead boy grows further when none of his relatives come to claim his body, while the parents of the other victims claim the bodies. A search for the boy's relatives does not yield anything, but the owner of a liquor den lands up and claims to know the boy's family.
Bharucha continues the search with the help of a journalist and stumbles upon shocking details about the boy's parents. It later comes to light that the boy comes from an affluent family, who do not have the courage to come forward and accept him as their son.
How Bharucha finally makes the parents come to terms with reality, forms the crux of the film.
The film has an unusual story when compared to the commercial flicks that are being churned out at regular intervals. As such, it has a poignant message to offer about how criminals breed even in the best of families, due to the neglect of the parents. It also highlights the irony of a society that is full of double standards.
There are several well-executed sequences in the first half, but the film starts dragging in the post-interval portions when the owner of the liquor den keeps dodging the police about the family whereabouts of the dead criminal. The lack of good music makes the proceedings grim after a point of time. There is just no relief from the tension.
Director Ajay Phansekar succeeds in making you think and has extracted fine performances from the cast. Dialogues are well penned. Editing is loose, mainly towards the second half.
Performance wise, Naseeruddin Shah is first-rate. He carries the film on his firm shoulders. Akash Khurana is competent. Ratna Pathak Shah is alright. Tara Deshpande is okay. Dilip Prabhawalkar is good.
On the whole, ENCOUNTER ï¿½ THE KILLING can qualify as a festival film, but commercially it will attract only a niche audience.