Raat Akeli Hai - Another Good Whodunit

Starring - Radhika Apte, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Tripathi, Riya Shukla, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia

Streaming - Netflix

Rating - 3/5

Somehow the relationship between Radhika Apte and Netflix seems like the India - Sri Lanka series held during the early 2010's. If there was no cricketing action, India and Sri Lanka would be involved in a series. Some series would be interesting while some, boring. But one thing would be constant, new talent would come to the fore. Raat Akeli Hai is no different. It marks the directorial debut of casting director Honey Trehan and he's done a good job.On seeing the trailer, it feels like an Indian adaptation of the format used by movies like Knives Out. It starts out that way but morphs into a regular investigative thriller.

A car passenger and her driver are killed and buried in a tannery. 5 years later we are introduced to Inspector Jatil Yadav (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who is under pressure to get married by his mother. If Jatil was played by a star, he would be introduced saving the damsel in distress with bombs going off in the background and the fire lighting up his face. But it is Nawazuddin and his introduction is just like his acting - no frills, effective and real.

Soon a 70 year old rich bridegroom Raghubeer Singh is murdered on his wedding night and the whole family suspects the bride Radha (Radhika Apte), the ex - mistress of the dead man. But Jatil, who is handed the case will have none of it as he takes a liking to Radha. And then the investigation begins.

Once the investigation began, the first thing that came to my mind was this: What would be Radha's fate is Jatil hadn't liked her? Bad, isn't it? Jatil even says this to Radha. Radha responds confidently and says that it is his duty to do so and he is not doing her a favour. The fact that people have to be asked to be treated fairly is something really sad. To Jatil's credit he gets off his high horse soon and takes the investigation more seriously. His colleague is however convinced that Radha is the one behind the murder just because she was Raghubeer's mistress. But is she, or is she not? And Jatil sets out to find out that exactly.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Jatil trying to get to the bottom of the murder and understand Radha carries the film ably on his shoulders. Fighting goons, finding motives, solving clues, helping the prime accused, Nawazuddin does it all. Radhika as Radha is a complex character and even Jatil says the same. As the movie progresses, you begin to root for both of them. Tigmanshu Dhulia as the superior police officer also does a good job. However capable actors like Riya Shukla (Chunni), Shivani Raghuvanshi (Vasudha) and Shweta Tripathi (Karuna) are dealt the short straw and don't get much scope to perform. Maybe the Knives Out format would have taken care of that.

The investigation scenes and the action scenes are done well. The Chambal accent is authentic and therefore could feel a bit tough to understand. Raat Akeli Hai is a serious movie but has bits of comedy too, courtesy Jatil's mother and his aversion to chowmein. This helps when the proceedings begin to feel a bit slow. There are a few red herrings too and they give a good impact when the big reveal happens. But the impact could have been more if a bit of urgency and fear were injected into the proceedings. Two and a half hours for an OTT release feels much more actually.

All in all, Raat Akeli Hai is like having a good meal at a restaurant that takes too much time to prepare. The food is really good, but you wish it wouldn't take this long. Good food with a bit of delay or decent food on time. You decide. And oh yes, you will be definitely alone on it.

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