Welcome to Chinatown!
Director: Navdeep Singh
A failed detective novelist is asked to play detective in real life by a mysterious visitor at his doorsteps one night. Her name is Manorama (a rather pale Sarika). She says wants proof against her powerful husband (Kharbanda) who is bedding another woman. Why does she want to hire the novelist? There are no private dicks in the small town. Novelist agrees. Why? He is broke, under suspension (bribery as pwd engineer) or may be he is little roused by some field action. Motivation can be any or many.
Novelist is played by Abhay Deol without an ounce of actorly histrionics. He plays the classic Hitchcock hero, an ordinary man suddenly raised to extraordinary situation. Set in anonymous deserted hinterland breathing sinister noir air, Manorama- Six fit under, is first truly contemporary native noir. It unravels at brooding pace. Unmask conspiracies, dark schemes, and even darker players. Populated with shady guys and threat to expose best guarded secrets Abhay soon realizes he is in mid flight where nothing what it seems.
Loosely inspired by Roman Polanski’s classic Chinatown (one of my all time favorites), movie is quite an engaging affair and effective exercise in the under explored genre in Indian cinema. Material and performances never falters. It lacks much needed jolt at times though that would have helped it give some pulse but director decidedly avoids sensationalizing his material even when demanded. Apart from Abhay, I especially enjoyed avid Vinay Pathak who shines in small role, this time around as a cop who relishes malpohas in breakfast and cracks one-liners with his Rajasthani accent. It’s certainly a small Indie genre film that demands your attention and even surprises you in the end. Movie is worthy excursion in private eye fiction.
* Bad **Average *** Good ****Very Good ***** Outstanding