If given a choice to pick from commercial cinema genres, I will confidently go for whodunits. Even if It happens to be a badly conceived plot, the amount of thinking that goes into building intrigue on papers is something that sells the genre to me right away. Directed by Abhay Chopra, Ittefaq is touted as a remake of Yash Chopra’s revered 1969 film by the same title. Not having watched the original is clearly beneficial as I approach the film with a fresh mind. On that note, the central trope of this Akshaye Khanna-Sonakshi Sinha-Siddharth Malhotra film doesn’t feel jaded one bit. Although several of writing and film-making ploys do find commonalities with classic suspense thrillers, the setting is exciting and contemporary.

Comparisons aside, Ittefaq doesn’t throttle us with millennial names assigned to its protagonists. It is the story of Vikram, Maya, Shekhar and Dev as opposed to Dhruv, Kiara, Kabir and their derivatives that are currently in vogue. Dev (Akshaye Khanna) is an investigating officer dealing with a twin murder and the suspects are Vikram (Siddharth Malhotra), a renowned author and Maya (Sonakshi Sinha), a housewife. Told in a Rashomon-like fashion, Ittefaq finds Dev at its epicentre and the whodunit texture is stylishly designed despite cinematic liberties that stay in permissible limits.

Abhay Chopra makes a decent mark by using the Mumbai monsoon backdrop to the optimum. Not just in the film’s visual tone but also in the way the plot unfolds, Ittefaq owes a lot to the season. There are few distractions in terms of filler content with the comic bits by sidekick policemen acting as hiccups in the film’s no-nonsense tenor. Although, I didn’t particularly mind Dev’s rough humour – that constantly found a balance between realism and playing to the gallery. A lot of it has to go with Akshaye Khanna’s aptitude for brooding (and equally volatile) parts as this.

Chopra also makes sure that his editor delivers a swell job. The intermittent montages and flashback storytelling segments are neatly done sans a tiny bit of chaos. Cinematography also deserves plaudits for using the very same sets with great precision, while maintaining continuity without creating a probable confusion with multiple perspectives being analyzed. Camera placements and angles are worth a notice – especially the latter where the DOP expresses the claustrophobia of a prison cell or a messy house with a meticulous focus on objects. Add to it a striking sound design, Ittefaq does get a lot of its chills in place. Having said that, if at all the film falters, it’s mostly in writing department in the latter half – where it goes on a route that is a tad too expedient. All the revelations come out a little forced though I must add how the closing moment comes out trumps with a stickler touch.

Actors Sonakshi Sinha and Siddharth Malhotra get a decent scope to display their calibre. The former displays a range of emotions in a part that lacks the depth that it ought to have had. Strictly in feminist terms, I have issues in the way Sinha’s character (Maya) is designed – with newer layers being revealed midway. The screenplay, unknowingly, gives the viewers the leeway to judge Maya for her choices – which is just sad. Malhotra, on his part, makes an earnest attempt and delivers for most parts. Anyhow, it is Khanna in cop avatar that takes the lion’s share of credibility amongst Ittefaq‘s cast members. Also to be noted is how the actor had played a half-baked version of the very same role in Mom that released earlier this year.

All said and done, Abhay Chopra’s  film is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that is riveting and, impressively enough, it doesn’t opt for a conventional ending. And don’t forget that cheeky Gupt integration that many of us would identify with. Neat!

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

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