Review Hindi

Operation Romeo review: This remake faithfully reproduces the flaws of the original

Release Date: 22 Apr 2022 / Rated: A / 02hr 15min

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Suyog Zore

The romantic thriller starring newcomer Sidhant Gupta and Vedika Pinto is a remake of the Malayalam film Ishq (2019).  

When you hear about a remake of a critically acclaimed film, you hope it remains faithful to the original, because, well, the original must have done something right to get all that acclaim. But Operation Romeo, starring Sidhant Gupta and Vedika Pinto, is one of those remakes whose drawback is being too faithful to the original, to the extent that the remake does not even try to eliminate its mistakes.

An official remake of the Malayalam romantic thriller Ishq (2019), Operation Romeo is about a couple whose best night also turns out to be the worst of their relationship. Adi (Gupta), who works in an information technology firm, is planning to propose to his college-going girlfriend Neha (Pinto) on her birthday. To celebrate her birthday he brings her to South Mumbai.

Their nervousness while simply touching each other gives us a clear idea that this relationship is still at the initial stage and this day might be the most important of their relationship. Neha comes from an orthodox Rajasthani family and going out with her boyfriend at night is probably the riskiest thing she has done yet. But, as they say, love makes you do crazy things and Neha is slowly realizing the truth of this statement.

Even at such an early stage of their relationship, Adi shows glimpses of the trappings of the typical possessive, egoistic Indian male. He gets upset when he finds out that his girlfriend received a rose from a classmate.

After roaming around South Bombay, the couple's first brief moment of intimacy in Adi's car is disturbed by police inspector Mangesh Jadhav (Sharad Kelkar) and his subordinate Patil (Kishore Kadam) and thus begins the couple's worst nightmare.

The couple tries to escape from the clutches of Jadhav and Patil, but to no avail. Jadhav initially comes across as an honest and moral inspector but slowly starts showing his lecherous side by initiating perverse conversation. With his constant nagging and wicked sense of humour, the film smartly raises questions about the rise in moral policing.

Through Jadhav, we see how a normal, middle-aged Indian male sees the young couples who just want to have some privacy. His eerie and vulgar attitude and constant mocking of the helpless couple for being out 'alone' not only adds to the haunting mood of the film, but also gives us an idea about how some Indians still consider two young lovers spending time together a crime.

There is a twist after the interval where we get to see the rage of Adi as he goes on a quest to prove a point to himself and to his girlfriend about his manliness.

Sidhant Gupta (left)

The writer and director manage to sustain the tension from start to finish with a wafer-thin plot, but it is all undone by some confusing messaging. Throughout the first half, the film sporadically gives little details about Adi's overprotective and possessive attitude towards Neha. At the same time you wonder if the film is trying to portray him as a victim because his girfriend's taunt when he is at his weakest sets him on a path to prove himself. You are never clear if he is a hero who has been wronged and wants revenge or simply a toxic man who can't accept someone else touching his girlfriend.

Shashant Shah's direction is decent and he succeeds in building up the tension, especially in the first half. Newcomer Sidhant Gupta does a fine job of showing the two sides of Adi — the sweet, shy boyfriend and a man simmering with anger. Vedika Pinto doesn't have much scope to show her acting prowess.

The film, however, belongs to Sharad Kelkar. The actor is terrific as the creepy pervert who derives sadistic pleasure by harassing an innocent young couple. His performance sometimes moves into the realm of theatricality, but this works for the film. It is hard to imagine that this is the same guy who played Chhatrapati Shivaji in Ajay Devgn's Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (2020). Kishore Kadam is equally terrific as the officer Jadhav's subordinate. Bhoomika Chawla enters quite late but makes a mark with a grounded performance.

Along with the positives, the film has carried forwarded some of the drawbacks of the original as well. Besides the confusing messaging, Operation Romeo has some logical plot holes, like how Adi easily finds out the truth about Jadhav and Patil and how everything works out in his favour when he decides to unleash the devil within himself. He finds all the details about the two cops in a day while we often can't seem to find a location even while using Google Maps.

Neha simply vanishes in the second half, so when the film tries to catch you off guard with its twist at the end, it does not make the desired impact. Though the climax seems on point and politically correct, it doesn't hit hard enough because we never find out what she has been going through and how she has been coping with the trauma of the shocking night.

Though the film sustains the tension in the first half, it begins to wear off towards the climax, especially when the audience gets an idea how far Adi will go for vengeance. The makers had the opportunity to work on the script and make it more believable than the original by fixing some of the loose ends and adding depth to Neha's character, but it seems they were content with a frame-by-frame.remake. Perhaps they should have let the audience come up with its own conclusion; that might have made more impact.

Operation Romeo is being released in theatres on 22 April.


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