American crime fiction writer James M. Cain has inspired generations in Hollywood and Bollywood to come up with their take on crime stories.
Debutante director Jijy Philip follows a similar path when he narrates the story of MY WIFE'S MURDER. A concept like MY WIFE'S MURDER is alien for Bollywood since it tends to explore the mind of a simpleton who accidentally murders his nagging wife. However, the film was made in Telugu earlier as MADHYANAM HATYA [Chakravarthy, Amani].
Every RGV product has a daringly different story to offer. RGV is known to think out of the box and the latest product from Factory reaffirms the fact that there's no dearth of stories as far as this prolific film-maker is concerned.
The setting is a middle class household in a metro, the protagonist is like any average professional associated with the burgeoning television industry, the interaction between the man and his wife seems straight out of lifeï¿½ but what sets MY WIFE'S MURDER apart from other crime sagas is that it makes the moviegoer peep into the psyche of the murderer.
An experimental, but innovative concept undoubtedly!
Ravi [Anil Kapoor] is a middle class man trying to etch out an existence for himself and his family. The only joy in his life is his editing studio and his job where he works on tight schedules and even tighter deadlines, along with his dutiful assistant Reena [Nandana Sen].
Ravi is constantly pestered at home by his wife Sheela [Suchitra Krishnamoorthy], who suspects her husband of having an affair with Reena. But things go out of hand when Ravi and Sheela have an ugly spat.
In a fit of anger, Ravi raises his hand on Sheela and her head hits the wooden carving of the bed. The unimaginable happens: Sheela dies on the spot. Ravi is shocked, but he has to act fast before the maid and children arriveï¿½
For any thriller to leave an impression, it ought to compel the viewer to bite his nails in anxiety, right till the conclusion of the story. MY WIFE'S MURDER does that successfully, although the pace drops intermittently in the post-interval portions.
Without wasting any time or precious celluloid raw stock, debutante director Jijy Philip and writer Atul Sabharwal bare open the thorny relationship the married couple share at the commencement of the film itself. Again, the turning point in the story -- the accidental death of the wife -- comes within fifteen minutes of the start, while the next one-and-a-half hours are spent on the complications that arise due to the accidental death.
The execution of the subject is a notch above the ordinary. Since the debutante has been an apprentice to RGV, you tend to draw parallels when it comes to handling a couple of eerie moments in the enterprise, like when Anil suddenly wakes up after a nightmare or the execution of a number of tension-filled moments.
The first 45 minutes move at a rapid pace, with the turn of the events as also the deft execution making you thirst for more. But things are slightly less riveting in the post-interval portions. To start with, the focus shifts to the interrogation of the husband by the cops and that's when it becomes a routine cat-n-mouse game.
Director Jijy Philip makes an impressive debut. Not once do you feel that it's directed by a first-timer, thanks to a number of skillfully executed sequences in the enterprise --
- The spat between Anil and Suchitra and the sequences thereafter -- Anil packing the corpse in a carton and throwing it in a pond. It gives you goosebumps.
- The first time Boman interrogates Anil in the waiting area of the morgue.
- The tiff between Rajesh Tandon and Nandana Sen, after Tandon spills the beans to Boman.
- The sequence when Anil is finally nabbed by the cops.
MY WIFE'S MURDER is penned intelligently, without deviating to unwanted plots, but how one wishes the writer wouldn't have focused on the cop's [Boman Irani] personal life or making the penultimate chase long-drawn and Bollywoodish. If you set out to make a realistic film, stick to it!
Nonetheless, the climax is a highpoint. When the cops narrow on the husband, the penultimate ten minutes take the film to an all-time high, with the viewer feeling thoroughly satisfied with the conclusion.
Another area where the film scores is in its background score [Amar Mohile], which heightens the impact of every sequence considerably. In fact, a film of this genre relies heavily on sound [Manas Choudhary] and score and the film deserves browny points in these departments. Cinematography [P.S. Vinod] is up to the mark.
Cast in a role that demand a high range of dramatics, Anil Kapoor gets into the skin of the character and delivers his finest performance to date. The actor conveys the various shades -- trauma, ordeal, despair, depression, anxiety -- with such precision that you can't help but carry his performance home after the show has concluded.
Boman Irani shines in a role that seems tailormade for him. The role would've fallen flat had it been entrusted to any inefficient actor, but with Boman enacting it, be assured of splendid results.
Suchitra Krishnamoorthy is first-rate as the nagging wife. The screen time may be limited to fifteen minutes, but her performance stays with you till the end. Nandana Sen is dependable, giving the role her very best. She gets more scope towards the post-interval portions. Rajesh Tandon is appropriate. The child artists are perfect, especially Master Zain. Abhijit Lahiri [as Suchitra's father] does a good job.
On the whole, MY WIFE'S MURDER is a shining example of new-age cinema that has gripped Bollywood, where newer and fresher ideas are being produced by film-makers who strongly feel that the viewer of today ought to have a choice. A big city film, the box-office prospects of MY WIFE'S MURDER at multiplexes of metros should be better. However, the film will have to rely on a strong word of mouth to sustain in the coming days.