nail polish

A scene from “Nail Polish.” (Trailer grab photo)

MUMBAI—A loopier crime thriller would be tough to find. Sample this: Social worker and ex-armyman Veer Singh (Manav Kaul, who gets the best role) is accused of raping and murdering children of migrant laborers—38 of whom have been missing / murdered of late. But he is specifically accused only about two of them.

Evidence against Veer is considerable, and completely straightforward and honest public prosecutor Amit Kumar (Anand Tiwari) is confident of nailing the accused. However, it is in the interest of a political party to free Veer as the news of his atrocities against migrant laborers will have repercussions on them. So they appoint Siddharth Jaising (Arjun Rampal) to make sure Veer is acquitted by trivializing the accusations and evidences against him. In return—believe it or nuts!—Siddharth gets a Rajya Sabha seat.

And so Siddharth, who tells Veer that he is “your only friend” goes about trying to make mincemeat of the prosecution, their witnesses and evidences, even sending a sample abroad to note that the supposed evidence is not all that foolproof or genuine. And just when you thought that the trial is about an honest counsel and an unscrupulous one, we get a weird angle: Veer attacks a bullying co-convict (Deepak Chaddha) in jail and makes him blind and is brutally attacked by the inmates. He loses his memory and starts calling himself Charu Raina, and behaving like a woman as he puts nail polish on his hands in a mental asylum if you please. Charu even has a husband and son!

And so we have the two counsel and the judge appoint a psychiatrist to find out if Veer is faking it, and we come across a addle-pated story that leads to a totally imbalanced (choice of word intentional!) and mad (same again!) solution. I for one was aghast that a murder mystery can end even this way. Guess the downright potty way the film ended was itself the suspense!

Arjun Rampal’s acting moves from efficient to erratic, as in his last disaster of a web series, “The Final Call.” Manav Kaul gets, as said before, the best role, but falls short in many of the scenes, or maybe it is the script and the direction that is preventing him for realizing the potential. Anand Tiwari is sincerely intense but we do not know how this talented actor of classics like “Go Goa Gone” and the creator-director of “Bandish Bandits” got waylaid into doing this. And the rest do not have any scope.

Bugs-sir, we have a few queries about the other mysterious happenings in your script that arise from thoughts and ideas that are put down on paper and then filmed. One, what was the scene about a woman leaving Siddharth’s home in a rage all about? Two, what was, similarly, the need to bring in a drunken but affectionate wife (Madhoo) for the judge? What was her relevance to the plot?

Three, why did Ranjit (spoiler if we identify him) kill his girlfriend for “national” interests? Wasn’t she also married and a mother, so why was she so openly close to him? Four, why did Veer make the jail bully blind, and why was he later sent back to jail when he was mentally deranged, and had no security?  Five, what was all that Kashmir-Ambala mess and the terrified man who was summoned by the judge to give audience as Charu Raina’s possible husband? Finally, why make a moral comment on lawyers and say that if you are not honest you will be prosperous and vice-versa? Amit’s wife adores him because he has a ramshackle automobile and works hard and does not have the hi-fi lifestyle of prosperous counsel.

And what was all that gobbledygook about migrant laborers being selected in any case?

This plethora of questions “Bugs” me, director Bugs Bhargava sir. But then, when you could not give us a sensible denouement, maybe because you yearn for a sequel some day (if wishes were horses…!), these queries will be even more difficult to answer.

Rating: *1/2

Produced by: Jahanara Bhargava, Dhirajj Vinodd Kapoor, Seema Mohapatra  & Pradeep Uppoor

Written & directed by: Bugs Bhargava Krishna

Music: Ronit Chatterji

Starring: Arjun Rampal, Anand Tiwari, Manav Kaul, Rajit Kapur, Madhoo,

Samreen Kaur, Sukesh Anand, Deepak Chaddha, Rushad Rana, Vikram Sahu, Poonam Shende

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