The Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte starrer Raat Akeli Hai were released on the OTT Platform Netflix. As this thriller proceeds, we can sense a powerful and interesting mystery turning into linear and monotonous storytelling.
The story is about a duteous but grumpy police officer, Jatil (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who is ready to get hitched with a “Susheel” (well mannered) girl as soon as possible and struggles with his marriage as he is not quite young or “fair”. The film starts off well with a stout and tough cop- the embodiment of an “ideal man”- involved in solving a murder mystery. He is seen applying fairness creams when he gets rejected by several girls for being dark. His actual name was “Jatin” but it was changed to “Jatil” by a spelling mistake during his board exams, a grudge he still holds against his mother.
As he gets involved in the murder of a rich and influential person from Kanpur, Thakur Raghubeer Singh (Khalid Tyabji) who was shot dead on this nuptial night. His house is full of people- his son, daughter, nephew, niece, sister-in-law etc., none of whom trust each other. None of the guests, including Raghubeer’s mistress Radha (Radhika Apte), with whom his marriage was fixed, could hear any sound. Jatil falls into a visible confusion of whom to trust as it seems anybody, everybody or nobody can be the killer.
Raat Akeli Hai directed by Honey Trehan is evocative and mysterious from the very beginning as the first five minutes show two deaths without a single dialogue. Soon Jatil, amidst his own conflicts, finds himself in an unfamiliar situation and a strange family. Has the murder been performed by an insider, an outsider or a combination of both? These questions were presented in the trailer itself and the film travels through Jatil’s investigation alongwith his own emotional journey as he finds himself attracted to Radha.
The film had all elements of a good thriller as screenwriter Smita Singh drops crucial revelation as perfect moments and we get to know that Radha, who was much younger than Raghubeer, wanted to marry Raghubeer’s nephew. Jatil finds himself in a fix- is Radha trustworthy or no? The case gets murkier with the entry of influential persons like Raghubeer’s family friend, a local MLA and Jatil’s boss, both of who try to disturb and influence Jatil’s investigation of the case as he gets more and more headstrong about finding the truth at all costs.
Raat Akeli Hai successfully aligns the viewers with Jatil’s point of view as we see the case through his eyes and his discoveries and confusions reflect in our thoughts. With a wider approach to the characters, we can consider Jatil to be a conventional Indian man who has several interactions with the female protagonist, Radha, but the audience is kept away from her perspective of things as well as her contribution to the story. Ending on an absolutely unexpected solution, this film could have had a better performance with the storytelling techniques used and more depth and attention given to the oppressed female characters in a predominantly patriarchal set-up.
Mahila Maha Vidhyalaya, Banaras Hindu University
A student of English Hons. at BHU, Manosrija is a passionate writer with a writer’s page on Instagram (@manosrija_04) and a YourQuote profile (That Girl). She is a sincere reader and is interested in poetry, fiction and politics.