Class Of ‘83 (Netflix): In how many films - from Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer and Shimit Amin’s Ab Tak Chappan to Mahesh Manjrekar’s Kurukshetra and Prabhudheva’s Wanted - have we seen the cop-hero battling the dreaded ‘System’ from the outside? In the 1971 game-changing cop film, Clint Eastwood throws his police badge in the muddy water and deals with a rampageous killer as he deems fit. Things are not that simple for super-cop Vijay Singh (played with suspicious stoicism by Bobby Deol). Unlike ‘Dirty’ Harry Eastwood, Deol has to play the law enforcer within the rulebook. Also he is not a made-up character buoyed by flights of frenzy. What sets Vijay Singh apart from all the other screen cops is his identity. He is a real person.
Scripted from a real-life encounter-cop Vijay Singh, Class Of '83 adheres closely to facts, discarding in the process all the flamboyant heroics of the way we look at cop heroes in our films. Vijay Singh is suicidal and troubled by the arrogance of the lawless. His team of young eliminators is fresh young enthusiastic and raring to act. And I do refer to both the young actors and the restless characters they play. Pramod Shukla (Bhupendra Jadawat), Lakshman Jadhav (Ninad Mahajani), Vishnu Varde (Hitesh Bhojraj), Aslam Khan (Sameer Paranjape) and Janardan Surve (Prithvik Pratap) are as impressive in their anxious righteousness on screen characters as they are as actors.
Aslam’s murder in the hands of chain snatchers, shot with a Sam Peckinpah lunacy on a construction site, has one of the goons humming, ‘Chain churake laya hoon’ to the tune of Gulzar’s Chand churake laya hoon. It is the only music you will hear in this film. No melodic outbursts in the background, no compromise with the mood of no-compromise that the protagonists wear like badges.
Bobby Deol is more effective in his emotional moments with his dying wife (Geetika Tyagi) and disgruntled son, than he is as a uniformed land-mower constantly battling his red-tapism.
The ‘encounters’ are staged with a feral fidelity and finality that emblazon the screen . The crusty toasted-brown cinematography (by the Norwegian Mario Poljac) pins down the sweet nervousness of lives on the brink. Class Of '83 effectively reflects the immediacy of quick justice. It is a sharp-shooting drama, lacking in newness but making up for it by making the familiar look furious, fertile and disturbingly futile.
RAAT AKELI HAI(Netflix): A death in the family kills a lot of hopes and expectations built around the life of the person who is no more. Or less. Raat Akeli Hai, a skillfully scripted whodunit that is much more than just a murder mystery, opens with two deaths, both connected to the same famil.The patriarchal nightmare of the Singh parivar, a feudal kingdom where kinks and whims rule,where the men decide the quality of the air women should breathe, is brought to life in flickering colours of dark furtive suppressed emotions.
Straight away, we must applaud Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography. A lot of the intended incandescence of seething hearts is lost on the OTT platform. What remains is still remarkable. First-time director Honey Trehan creates a dark sinister self-contained universe of painful gender discrimination shaken up by the murder of the patriarch on his wedding night… His SECOND wedding night. The horny Thakur’s bride is a free-spirited libertine - or at least that’s how she comes across - who has been sleeping with the aged man of the house and his robust nephew Vikram.
Enter Inspector Jatil Yadav, a hard nut to crack,and known to crack open difficult cases, Jatil (with an ‘l’) is a Mama’s Boy attached at his mother Ila Arun’s apron strings and probably still a virgin.This virgin cop is sitting duck waiting for a never mind! It doesn’t take Jatil long to get attracted to Radha, the promiscuous newly-widowed second wife of the newly-slayed Thakur.
It’s to writer Smita Singh’s credit that she builds a remote humour around Jatil’s struggle to change his marital status. That he falls head over heels in love with Radha is a testament to the plot. Not only does the growing relationship between the quirky cop and the wanton widow take the narrative to the level of a Greek tragedy, it also propels the whodunit into a kind of romantic somersault where love and murder, blood and semen mingle into a stirring often provocative film. In a film as complex and compelling as Raat Akeli Hai, the casting is supreme. Casting director turned filmmaker Honey Trehan gives the murder mystery the actors it deserves. Both Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte gather their considerable nervous energy into performances that constantly suggest there’s more to the proceedings than meets the eye.
Raat Akeli Hai is impressively reined-in about its rage for a society that allows men to treat women as objects of lust. Every major character, man or woman is angry. But none is given the luxury of unchecked expression. The deep sorrow that encircles us while watching Raat Akeli Hai is all well worth experiencing. It is what makes life bearable.
Image source: IMDb, Youtube/Netflix
Image source: IMDb, Youtube/Netflix