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REVIEW: Monica O My Darling

Murk, Monica, and multiple murders in new Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi and Radhika Apte starrer NETFLIX murder mystery.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Just first few minutes into the film, a murder takes place …cliché, right? But that’s just the beginning for director Vasan Bala’s latest offering, a murder mystery called— Monica O My Darling.

AT A GLANCE

  • Director: Vasan Bala
  • Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte, Sikander Kher, and Akansha Ranjan Kapoor
  • Rating: ***1/2
  • Platform: Netflix

Rajkummar Rao plays Jayant Arkhedkar, an AI expert and the star of the tech giant Unicorn Group.

At the very outset, Bala successfully establishes envy as the main theme of the plot. But the grey shades in Jayant’s character come to the fore soon enough: he is sort of in a forced relationship with his boss’ daughter Nikki Adhikari (played by Akansha Ranjan Kapoor). Jayant is caught cheating on Nikki, with the office secretary Monica, played by Huma Quereshi.

Things begin to get messy when Monica unveils that she is expecting Jayant’s child. She demands compensation in the form of money, and Jayant who is now a big shot within the business group, is compelled to pay in order to keep things under wraps, long as he can.

The story gets murkier when Jayant realises Monica has been up to the same tactics with his colleagues Nishi (Sikander Kher) and Arvind (Bagavathi Perumal). Both have been totally entangled by Monica in her mess.

References and Cameos

Writer-director Vasan Bala is clearly inspired by the popular number from the 1971 Hindi film Caravan to name his neo-noir film – Monica, O My Darling. The film has many pop culture references to the murder mystery genre, such as Hitchcock, with the name ‘Bates Motel’ causally appearing in a sequence to the Psycho theme. Again, a sequence where Shriram Raghavan’s Jhonny Gaddar is being played in the background, adds another shade of darkness and thrill into the presentation. There are a bunch of cameos also to look out for especially if the dark theme, persons, and their dirty objectives are not enough. Abhimanyu Dasani and Radhika Madan, leads from Bala’s debut film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, playing the very same characters, acts as a fresh crossover that very few have been able to achieve in Indian cinema logically.

But what’s exciting about Monica, O My Darling is that the film starts making sense you once you get familiar with the quirky premise. Once you settle in, mystery takes over. The film then becomes similar to the children’s game “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?’’

Bala’s use of a good dose of black comedy does well too, presenting an opportunity for the viewers to constantly think about who will be dead next.

Sound cast

The late-ish arrival of ACP Naidu (played by Radhika Apte) adds to making this ride even more enjoyable and thrilling. Apte is spot on in her portrayal. Rajkummar Rao being the lead is successful in holding on to his audiences, but this man has played so many beautiful characters with such grace and panache in the past, that this performance feels bland at places. Akansha Ranjana Kapoor’s performance felt like a breath of fresh air. She is surprisingly good.

However, it’s the background music that keeps the viewers engaged. Kudos to Achint Thakkar who composed the music for the film, and Varun Grover for lyrics that value adds so much to the narrative.

Read More: 15 Indian films to look out for in November 2022 

Torsha Sen
Torsha Sen
A seasoned journalist who observes passage of time and uses tenses that contain simple past, continuous present, and a future perfect to weave stories.

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