Raat Akeli Hai is too crowded: with incidents, with intrigue and characters. In fact, there come times when you have difficulty joining the dots and you rush the genealogical chart to get a perspective of the characters roaming all over the studios.
A seeming road accident on a dark night followed by the victims being burnt kick-starts the tale of hate and killings and murder mystery. The narrative, however, moves quickly to a murder of an octogenarian Raghuvendra Singh on his wedding night. Inspector Jatil Yadav steps in to investigate with the assistance of Narendra Singh. The nephew of the victim Vikram Singh is the prime suspect.
The family includes Karuna Singh, daughter of Raghuveer Singh, Karan, son of Raghuveer Singh, Chunni, maid of the house, Pramila Singh, wife of Raghuveer Singh’s Brother, Vasudha and Vikram, daughter and son of Pramila, Ravi Sisodia, husband of Karuna, and Radha, wife of Raghuveer Singh. Now there is blood sticking on multiple hands. Investigations would also reveal that Radha is a victim of trafficking and is not only the bride-to-be on the fatal night but is also in a relationship with the younger Thakur.
The script runs the regular route of suspicions and false leads, creeks, rainy nights, false leads, etc. Apart from the regular feudal tones of the havelis, there is also the local MLA Munna Raja. Within the family, hate and suspicion prevail. It is the staple diet and everyone is eves dropping or spewing venom at the other. In a while, you connect to the death at the haveli with the accident in the very beginning of the narrative. In case you think this is only about wealth and sex, then, of course, you are off course. It is about wealth, sex, perversion, gender exploitation, corruption, liquor, trafficking, and the entire gamut.
While the filmmaker tries his very best to keep you engaged for about three hours which in itself is a big call, you obviously get tired of all the killings and the hate. In fact, you feel a tad tired looking at this sordid image of man. No debate here on credibility but being choked is sometimes very nauseating and this is such a poor cry of the Kafka world with our feudal system written all over. You sometimes desire to run for cover with the little remains of humanism left.
There is not a moment you relax in the film. Like Bulbull, here, too, the palace intrigue is so heavy and downpour so consistent and insistent that you get a feel that the filmmaker is hard-selling the idea that mankind has lost the plot. Perhaps true. Then the fault lies in the making of the package. Sometimes, overstated is counterproductive.
Most of the performances can be bracketed into tow pigeonholes: those who are flowing the camera and those who are following the script. Radhika Apte shines in a very sketchy role. It is bane of our cinema that actors of this calibre are not in the mainstream and at the cost of foot drops we miss such immense talent.
Nawazuddin needs to quickly do something about the image. He is hovering around this character once too often and given the limitations of human action, you begin to discern sooner than later a pattern. This does injustice to the great actor. Radhika and Nawazuddin are caught wrapped in this hate story in a haveli through a few nights and perhaps qualitatively and emotionally drained they are saying: ‘Raat Akeli Hai’.
This is not just about a sordid lonely night. In terms of emotional drain, it is also ‘bhuj gaye diye’.
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