Neeyat: A Concoction Of Agatha Christie And Sherlock Holmes That Produces More Groans Than Thrills

Director Anu Menon creates the right atmosphere, thanks to the art direction and cinematography, but flounders when it comes to storytelling.

Flat direction!
Neeyat (Hindi)
  • Cast: Vidya Balan, Ram Kapoor, Shahana Goswami, Shashank Arora, Amrita Puri, and Shefali Shah (special appearance)
  • Writer-Director: Anu Menon
  • Producer: Vikram Malhotra
  • Music: Mickey McCleary
  • Runtime: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Director Anu Menon’s Neeyat (Motive) is a solid example of how making a mystery film is not everyone’s cup of tea. Apart from the Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes hangover, the film also reminds you of Daniel Craig’s Knives Out (2019).

Neeyat also has a minuscule semblance to the pilot episode of Vishal Bharadwaj’s web series Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley (2023).

Well, there is nothing wrong with getting influenced by the works of others provided you make a compelling film. But Anu Menon’s Neeyat provides very few thrills. In fact, the thrills can be counted on your fingertips.

Synopsis

The film’s plot revolves around a fugitive billionaire Ashish Kapoor (Ram Kapoor).

It is easy to guess that he is modelled by several businessmen who have committed financial fraud and escaped from the country. His over-ambitious behaviour causes many innocent employees in his company to commit suicide.

Ashish Kapoor has a beautiful mansion by the seaside in Scotland. He decides to celebrate his birthday there with close family members and friends. They all have their inner demons.

Present at this party is also the supposed CBI officer Meera Rao (Vidya Balan).

Things take a drastic turn when Ashish Kapoor is found dead under the sea. What follows is a whodunnit where each member is a suspect.

Ram Kapoor & Rahul Bose stand out

There are only a few actors who stand out in this ensemble cast.  Chief among them is Ram Kapoor and Rahul Bose.

Ram Kapoor plays the power-hungry billionaire with panache. He does a swell job of capturing the eccentrics of Ashish.

Rahul Bose also has his moments playing Ashish Kapoor’s brother-in-law Jimmy. His character is a caricature but Rahul Bose makes it land with his enthusiasm.

Last but not least, Shefali Shah, in a special appearance, packs a far bigger punch than Vidya in the entire film.

There are a couple of twists that do take you by surprise — one of them is Ram Kapoor’s character and the other is Vidya Balan’s. But these twists come so late that the audiences are exhausted by that time.

Dragged narrative

As mentioned earlier, Anu Menon does create the right atmosphere. This is majorly thanks to Lydia Moss’s art direction and the cinematography by Andreas Neo.

They both are successful in creating a tension-filled atmosphere. This atmosphere adds more depth to the story than the direction.

Ashish Kapoor’s mansion is also a character in itself.

However, a big issue with Neeyat is the dragged narration of Anu Menon. The film takes a long time to get to the point. The pacing is slow and some layers have been unnecessarily added.

Neeyat also tries to make social commentary on how the employees are left in a lurch because of these power-hungry billionaires, driving them to suicide. But these portions don’t make any impact because of the flat direction.

Another major problem with Neeyat is how Vidya Balan goes about her role as Meera Rao. The energy needed for a female Sherlock Holmes is absolutely missing. Vidya plays her character with unenthusiasm.

Verdict

In all, Anu Menon’s Neeyat produces more groans than thrills.

(Views expressed here are personal.)

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