Rajeev Masand

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More to Manorama Six Feet … than meets the eye

 
Rajeev Masand Reviews
 

  Cast: Abhay Deol, Gul Panag, Sarika, Raima Sen, Vinay Pathak

Direction: Navdeep Singh

Film noir in the true sense of the word, Manorama Six Feet Under has a dark, simmering quality about it, and ten minutes into the story you know there’s more to it than meets the eye. Director Navdeep Singh, making no attempt to hide the fact that he’s borrowed his plot generously from Roman Polanski’s extraordinary film Chinatown, also borrows from that film its bleakness, its sense of impending doom.

Set in a nondescript desert town in Rajasthan, the film stars Abhay Deol as Satyaveer Singh, a suspended government officer and struggling crime-novelist who’s hired by the wife of a local politician to play detective and spy on her cheating husband.

With every passing day, as he gets sucked into the case, Satyaveer Singh realizes that nothing is what it seems – not the wife, not the other woman, not even the nature of the offence he’s been hired to expose.

Filled with more twists and turns than you’re likely to find on the Western Ghats, Manorama Six Feet Under is both intelligent and exciting, but it’s the film’s sluggish screenplay that betrays it eventually.

Much like Polanski’s Chinatown, this story too unfolds at a languid pace, but considering it’s an experimental format, a mostly unfamiliar genre to Hindi film audiences, a tighter narrative might have yielded better results.

Pretty much abandoning the key theme of Robert Towne’s Oscar-winning screenplay – the water scandal – around which the plot of Chinatown is essentially based, the writers of Manorama Six Feet Underconcentrate instead on character betrayals in their own script.

Fortunately for them, they’ve got an ensemble cast of enthusiastic actors who deliver sparkling performances that keep this film from coming apart. Abhay Deol plays the first-time detective with a mixture of eagerness and trepidation, while Gul Panag brings an uncomfortable believability to her role as Satyaveer Singh’s disappointed wife.

Raima Sen is excellent as the young lady who proves to be a vital piece in this never-ending jigsaw puzzle, as is Vinay Pathak who practically steals the show as the oily police-officer who always has the last word.

It’s unlikely that Manorama Six Feet Under will appeal to all, mostly because it unfolds at a pace slower than a melting candle. But skillfully directed by debutant Navdeep Singh, the film works as a show reel for the talents of everyone involved.

I’m going with two out of five and an average rating for director Navdeep Singh’s Manorama Six Feet Under, if you enjoy the unconventional, give it a shot.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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