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Ittefaq

Rating: 2.5

November 03, 2017

Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha, Akshaye Khanna

Director: Abhay Chopra

Watching Ittefaq, you’re instantly reminded just how good an actor Akshaye Khanna is. He plays an inscrutable police officer investigating a complex double murder, and although the film isn’t perfect, Khanna remains dependably brilliant.

His character Dev Verma is the film’s most interesting figure, easily the smartest one in the room. Khanna plays him with furrowed brow and urgent gait, and the film’s writers give him some of the best lines. But more on him later.

First-time director Abhay Chopra borrows the film’s title and a few broad ideas from Yash Chopra’s claustrophobic 1969 thriller starring Rajesh Khanna and Nanda, which unfolded over a single night and largely in one location. But the new film is its own thing. This is a whodunit with two suspects and various possibilities.

Sidharth Malhotra plays Vikram Sethi, a bestselling author who’s on the run after being accused of killing his wife. He ends up at the home of Maya (Sonakshi Sinha), and the same night her husband is also killed. Dev is brought in to get to the bottom of things and to dig for the truth from their vastly different versions of what went on in that flat that night.

It’s an interesting premise but the script lacks urgency and the makers fail to build enough tension. As the story unravels, the chinks in the writing become apparent, and multiple coincidences pile up. Sidharth is sincere and conveys vulnerability when he’s pleading innocence or embracing defeat. Sonakshi, however, is strictly one-note, and makes it hard for you to care for Maya because the writers give her so little to work with, and because she invests so little in her.

 

Well, good thing there’s also Akshaye Khanna. Whether it’s chiding junior officers for making tea at a crime scene, or throwing a look that instantly straightens out a colleague who’s got carried away by a witness’ hospitality, his Dev is the film’s most fully realized character, and one of those rare movie cops that feels authentic.

Ittefaq is crisp at 107 minutes, but not particularly brisk. It’s well shot and skillfully executed, but the big climatic twist is entirely unconvincing. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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