Gulshan Devaiah in “Footfairy.” (Think Ink Communications photo)

Yes, I know there will be superlatives heaped on the climax and post-climax of “Footfairy” (never mind if the title, with an American sports connotation, will have zilch resonance with the average Hindi film buff). I can imagine hosannas heaped on it, like “devastatingly clever,” “shatteringly imaginative” and so on.

But to me, that is the one downer in the otherwise crisp and engrossing film that is well-made and thoroughly gripping otherwise, like any good thriller. Come on, the end isn’t even like the classic cliffhanger, and though the version I watched also had an “Intermission” slide (which should have been removed), which means there was an ambition to make it to the big screen, it is highly unlikely that it would have had a sequel if it had released theatrically, as most sequels are possible only with commercial success.

That said, “Footfairy” almost reaches brilliant heights despite a slow and predictable start and a lot of expected things happening alongside the unexpected ones. Footfairy refers here to an audacious serial killer of women, whose limbs he cuts off with a saw before he fits their bodies into a suitcase and dumps them for the cops to find. The victims all board their trains from a specific suburban station in Mumbai, and he always attacks them on lonely terrain at night at their destination.

Of course, all the ladies go in for illegally crossing the railway tracks on arrival! As the film seems to imply, this is uncommon, but anyone living in the metropolis knows that this is very common, and hence, a woman being so lonely is unlikely even late in the night, because otherwise most women (and even men) would use the overbridges!

So we will grant the cinematic license that in places like Mumbai, and in the areas mentioned, it is not possible that not a soul will be around. But with glib explanations given (like the killer must be stalking or studying the victim) and a large suitcase that can fit a human body being carried by the killer but never noticed by anyone on the platform, I feel that the writers and directors are taking licenses too liberally. The cops don’t even investigate this angle!

The essential plot is of CBI’s ace detective Vivaan Deshmukh (Gulshan Devaiah in one of his rare positive roles) being told to nab the killer after the fourth murder. Deshmukh’s boss is of the heavily go-by-the-book kind, and his team (two unknown but good actors) quite hardworking and intrepid, and the red herrings are cleverly strewn en route. Vivaan is also introduced to a pediatrician, Devika (Sagarika Ghatge) and love blooms.

Layer by layer, the investigation proceeds, and then there is a “lucky” break with the finger of suspicion pointing out to a restaurant owner, Joshua (Kunaal Roy Kapur). Evidence is examined, but Vivaan’s gut feeling overrules him. What happens next?

The developments are quite riveting, though not everything is satisfactorily explained, which does make the film a tad superficial. The camerawork is good, but it is a fad of late in web series as well as films to have too many random views of a city or town at all hours. I honestly do not know the rationale for that!

The background score is done well in parts, and predictable again in others. The director is in good command, especially over the routine sequences like the early chase of the killer by the cops—everything predictable happens, but it is well done.

Devaiah performs well, as does Ghatge in a vibrant, cheerful role. Kunaal Roy Kapur in a small role excels again. The man’s acting triumphs, in roles big and small, keep surprising us even when we should now expect remarkable essays from each time.

Had the post-climax been better ironed out, the film would have been leagues ahead. But then, as happens so frequently nowadays as a dampener, someone just had a bright, outré idea!

Rating: ***

Produced by: Nitin Upadhyay

Directed by: Kanishk Verma

Written by: Ashish P. Verma

Music: Jeet Gannguli

Starring: Gulshan Devaiah, Sagarika Ghatge, Kunaal Roy Kapur & others

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