‘Kadak Singh’ movie review: Pankaj Tripathi livens up this languid thriller

Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury brews a mildly flavoured concoction on the fickleness of memory and relationships that takes a long time to come to the boil

December 08, 2023 12:33 pm | Updated 12:39 pm IST

Pankaj Tripathi in ‘Kadak Singh’

Pankaj Tripathi in ‘Kadak Singh’

While crafting thrillers, writers and filmmakers continue to employ the Rashomon effect to keep the audience invested. This week, director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, who mounted a layered social thriller in Pink (2016), has opened a well-meaning and relatable but largely insipid case file that is processed from several points of view before the truth is revealed.

A.K. Shrivastava (Pankaj Tripathi), a dedicated officer investigating a financial crime involving a chit fund company, is admitted to a hospital after an alleged suicide attempt that has resulted in retrograde amnesia. He could not identify his daughter Sakshi (Sanjana Sanghi) and is not sure about the age of his son. He remembers that he lost his wife to an accident but is not ready to admit that now there is a new woman in his life called Naina (Jaya Ahsan). He could recognise his colleague Arjun (Paresh Pahuja) and senior Tyagi (Dilip Shankar) but is not sure about their present role in the department.

As Sakshi, Naina, Arjun, and Tyagi reflect on the happenings that led to the day of the incident when Shrivastava purportedly tried to end his life, we get a sense of the layered personality and character of the officer who is called Kadak by his children for being a little too strict in his personal and professional life.

Sakshi thinks that her father was not fair to her deceased mother and her brother but Naina feels otherwise. Arjun believes that it was not a case of suicide but attempted murder because of the high-stakes scam that Shrivastava was investigating. Tyagi has his own version. Then there is a nurse (Parvathy Thiruvothu) who is a neutral spectator to the different versions of Shrivastava’s past and his present.

Kadak Singh (Hindi)
Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjana Sanghi, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Jaya Ahsan, Dilip Shankar
Run-time: 127 minutes
Storyline: Suffering from partial memory loss, A.K. Shrivastava, an officer of Department of Financial Crimes, has to find a way to solve a scam that threatens to ruin his credibility and family.

For a large part, the film feels like a well-intentioned but mildly flavoured message on mental health, parenting and relationships stitched around a white-collar crime that needs to be addressed. It reminds of those sedate tele-serials of the 1980s and ‘90s where a crime was solved without disturbing the dining table rituals of the audience. There are some honest moments like when the film addresses the bond between Naina and Shrivastava but for a large part, the characters talk a lot without saying much.

The denouement is visible from a distance and the strands come together smoothly and a little too safely. The good thing is that, unlike Aniruddha’s last work which ‘Lost’ its way after a promising start, here the narrative grips as Aniruddha and writer Ritesh Shah gradually clear the haze around the core issue.

Not as memorable as some of his recent performances, Tripathi brings his inimitable charm to liven up the proceedings and smoothly shifts between a stern officer and a lively patient keen on joining the dots of his past. It is a challenging part for the actor to convey multiple impressions about Shrivastava to keep the audience guessing. Is he really honest or is he playing up his illness to hoodwink his superiors? Has he lost his memory or is he using it as a mask to solve the case? Tripathi ensures that we engage with both: what the character is doing on screen and what he might have done. Sanjana finally gets a challenging role and she doesn’t disappoint. Dilip is as competent as ever. Bangladeshi actor Jaya looks the part and delivers the requisite emotional intensity. Cast in a role that is not central to the story, Parvathy lets her eyes do the talking and becomes an able foil to Tripathi.

Not as Kadak as promised, it is a middling thriller meant for lazy afternoons when you have nothing better to log into.

Kadak Singh is currently streaming on Zee5

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