It is a rather thrilling weekend at the cinemas this weekend. While R Balki is rolling out his psychological crime thriller Chup, Kookie Gulati (director of The Big Bull, Prince) is also trying his hand with the crime thriller genre via his new release Dhokha: Round D Corner. Starring R. Madhavan, Aparshakti Khurana, Darshan Kumar, and Khushalii Kumar in the lead, the film revolves around a supposedly delusional woman taken hostage by a terrorist in her own home while her husband and a team of police officers help rescue her.
As the trailer has already revealed, Khushalii plays the role of the housewife Sanchi while Madhavan plays her husband Yathaarth. Wreaking havoc in their lives is terrorist Haq Gul, played by Aparshakti, while Darshan Kumar essays the role of Inspector Malik.
The film opens with Yathaarth and Sanchi appearing as the ideal love birds who eventually have gone sour. From romancing at every opportunity, the couple has now reached a point wherein Sanchi is demanding a divorce. Refusing to comply, Yathaarth brushes it off as one of her delusional episodes. However, he soon learns that his wife has been taken hostage and he rushes home in an attempt to save her.
On the other hand, Inspector Malik and Gul have a history too. Malik had caught him in an alleged bomb blast case and jailed him for months. When he was being taken from one jail to another, he allegedly escapes and takes Malik’s gun as well.
The first half feels like a game of two truths and a lie. Each character shares their side of the story. While Yathaarth claims that Sanchi is delusional, thinks she falsely suspects him of having an affair with her psychiatrist and accuses her of presenting a sensuous side to win over a situation, Sanchi accuses him of falsely declaring her mentally ill and having an extramarital affair.
Malik and Haq have their own version of the game going. Malik claims that Haq is a trained Kashmiri terrorist who is in the city to seek revenge for a death that took place years ago and planned the bomb blasts but Haq says he has no idea about it and is an innocent man.
While director Kookie Gulati is attempting to tangle you into their lies, he adds a layer of Lima syndrome to spice things up. This syndrome allows Sanchi to take control of the situation from time to time. To top it off, she uses her sensuality to ensure that Haq is under her spell.
The second half is spent in guessing who is telling the truth and if Sanchi is safely rescued from the hostage situation.
On paper, the film’s plot sounds interesting but the execution doesn’t do the concept complete justice. Gulati attempts to add drama to suspense and somewhere loses the balance of both. The first half takes time to establish but given the genre of the film, you’d expect it to keep you hooked from the moment go. But the uneven pace and imbalanced focus don’t let you get fully invested in the film.
The second half tries to redeem the film but to only a certain extent. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the climax. Gulati paid more attention to tying up the knots at the end that properly placing the threads that needs to be tied up. Even with this, a few loose ends do dangle in the end, causing a couple of plot holes. The script also needs some tightening.
On the acting front, Aparshakti is undoubtedly the star of the film. The actor impresses with his good Kashmiri dialect and presents almost all his acting cards throughout the movie — an unstable criminal, a weak lover, a man trying to pick between life and death, and eventually a heartbroken mentally ill man. It is truly his film.
Supporting him well is R Madhavan. It is always a treat to watch him play a role that involves limited romance and more pushing of boundaries. However, it was heartbreaking to see Darshan Kumar perform a weakly written character. Even in the situation, he tries to salvage what is in his hand but it isn’t enough.
As for Khushali Kumar, who is making her Bollywood debut with the film, it is sad to see that the film focused a lot more on her curves than her face. Given that the film revolved majorly around Sanchi, her character should have been portrayed in a better way. #JusticeforSanchi!
A special mention to the mockery made of the newsrooms that featured as a breather in the movie. Gulati appeared to be distracted from the suspense tale from time to time, thus adding scenes of how media houses are fighting for TRP ratings over the coverage. The film also featured a journalist inspired by some of the loudest anchors on television. It did lead to a few laughs but it mostly felt forced.
Final verdict: Dhokha offers an interesting plot line but the vision is unstable in many places. Would I watch the film? Well, it would be a boring Sunday watch when I have nothing else to watch.