My Birthday Song kickstarts rather self-consciously, trying too hard to build on the atmospherics and air of mystery what with the odd angles and extreme close-ups in framing its tortured protagonist Rajeev (Sanjay Suri).
Rajeev can’t shrug off the nightmare of his 40th birthday. He goes back to the celebrations in his mind, recollecting a dangerous liaison with a strange lady that had come to change his life and world forever. Debutant director Soni creates a Groundhog Day kind of a time loop and cycle of repetitions, which, in turn, help him play mind games with his audience. In the middle the film does settle down into a fairly gripping watch. He keeps you guessing by taking you back to the incident, wondering if things were for real or not, whether they did happen or were the visions of a feverish, sick mind.
The big, climactic reveal is also potentially interesting though morally problematic. Tying it all up could have, however, been done with far more finesse. The themes of transgression and guilt, betrayal and regret could have reached out more compellingly. Soni does lay the ground for the twist in the past, leaves a few hints for the viewers but it still seems to have been thrust in from outside than emerging organically from the larger plot. And the whole side-stepping into the fantastic, metaphorical mechanic repairing the car of life becomes a tad heavy handed.
Suri works hard at getting under the skin of the character while being perennially under the camera’s gaze. Wish he had a better cast to support him. Some spit and polish and this could have been a rare good Hindi thriller.