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Raat Akeli Hai review: Pace hurts this otherwise well-shot crime drama

Release Date: 31 Jul 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Keyur Seta

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is once again in top form while playing a difficult character.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s success story has been inspiring, to say the least. As a struggler, the actor played tiny roles in countless films, including Sarfarosh (1999), Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar (2000) and Munna Bhai M.B.B.S (2003), to name a few.

After a slow start, his career graph has gradually gone up and seen him play important characters in films like Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012) and even the main lead in Freaky Ali (2016) and Babumoshai Bandookbaaz (2017).

Once again, Siddiqui carries a project on his able shoulders in Honey Trehan’s Raat Akeli Hai. 

Here he plays an upright and tough police officer, Jatil Yadav. He lives in a town in Uttar Pradesh with his mother Sarita Kumari (Ila Arun). She is desperate to see her son married, which annoys Jatil. During one such argument, Jatil gets to know that an aged landlord, Raghubeer Singh (Khalid Tyabji), was shot dead at his place right after his second marriage.

The old man had married a much younger woman named Radha (Radhika Apte). During initial investigation, Jatil gets the feeling that Raghubeer’s family, Radha included, is hiding something. As the policeman digs deeper, he gets into trouble with his senior and with MLA (member of the legislative assembly) Munna Raja (Aditya Srivastava).

What piques Jatil's interest more is that Raghubeer’s first wife and driver were murdered on the nearby highway five years ago. Does this incident have any connection with Raghubeer’s murder?

Raat Akeli Hai is another feather in Nawazuddin Siddiqui's cap. His Jatil Yadav has quite a few layers and the actor ensures that the character isn’t limited to being just an investigator. His character is a man who is fighting the fact that he is no longer a young man and has to deal with his personal conflicts while grappling with the complexity of an unusual case at hand. 

This performance is finely matched by Radhika Apte as Radha, a woman who is full of secrets but isn’t ready to spill them, come what may. She manages to convey a lot on most occasions with just a glare.

Raat Akeli Hai has an interesting and intriguing plot which is laid out well from the start. Trehan has succeeded in creating a universe where nothing is what it seems and where even scenes of celebration have an undercurrent of uneasiness. A lot of the credit also goes to cinematographer Pankaj Kumar. His work here is as impressive as in his previous film Tumbbad (2018).

As viewers, we are sucked into this town which is gloomy and has characters that can’t be trusted. From the supporting cast, Nishant Dahiya as Vikram and Aditya Srivastava as MLA Munna Raja stand out. Srivastava once again reminds us of his terrific potential which has not been utilized well by mainstream Hindi cinema.

But alas! these positives are not enough to make Raat Akeli Hai a riveting thriller or murder mystery. The trouble is with the screenplay; while it gets you involved from the start, it loses grip before the halfway point.

From here onwards, it becomes difficult to not squirm in your seat as the story moves at a snail’s pace. So much so that even a surprise element during the ending moments fails to impress you much. This story did not need 149 minutes to be told and the script could have done with some crisping before being taken on the floors.

Honey Trehan is a well-known casting director and Raat Akeli Hai is his directorial debut. The end product might not be as impressive as he would have liked it to be, but his filmmaking talent is unmistakable. Clearly, he is a director to look out for.

Raat Akeli Hai is now available on Netflix.

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