Director Rensil D’Silva sets out to make a sleek thriller, but the nature of the drama makes it too predictable
The story unfolds in the course of one night, turning the lives of characters upside down. There is a back story to the characters- even the most dreaded or the straightforward ones. There will be a fight between right and wrong, or wrong and less wrong. Dial 100 is all about all these notions. While you do have things to cherish here, the overall appeal remains dampened.
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Nikhil Sood (Manoj Bajpayee) is a senior police inspector in the control unit of Mumbai Police. He gets a call, transferred to him, from an unknown female caller (Neena Gupta) who first says she is about to commit suicide. A few moments later, she declares that she is going to kill someone. As Sood gets involved, things get unfold to reveal the bigger picture, connecting other people, including big shots.
Story and screenplay are penned by D’Silva. The dialogues are written by Niranjan Kannan Iyengar. It’s a simple story. One liner. Extremely straightforward. The idea ain’t new. It is the screenplay that brings in some respite. Although you have it almost all predicted, there are still moments that render suspense and thrill. There are some points- however too few- where you are invested and ask as to what will happen next. The manner in which the story is written- talking about right and wrong, justice and law, drug abuse, drug dealing, family tussle, and the fact that the key person is a police officer- all these ingredients even without a story take you in a particular direction only. Here also, the direction doesn’t change.
More than the content itself, it’s the riveting performances of the main leads who make it a worthwhile experience. Remove Bajpayee and Gupta from the film- chances are you wouldn’t have even known that such a film is out. Kudos hence to the casting, for compensating the weaker link of the film. Call it smartness or fluke- it is the biggest advantage to the film that these powerhouse actors consented to the film.
What is also beneficial for the plot is that the drama is crisp- as events happen during one single night. The pace is swift, things happen fast and the entire film is 1hr44mins long. Decent and satisfactory. In times of OTT, it is also necessary to take into account how audience consumes content and the kind of content that is popular. D’Silva doesn’t go wrong on this front atleast.
The essence of the film remains in the line between right and wrong and more prominently in order of the law and justice. Ofcourse, although this can never go old in a country like India, you need more than just portraying the characters in a vengeful scenario taking the entire police force at your disposal. You need more emotions and more believability. Here, the plausibility can also be questioned in several scenes, but given the cinematic notion only, it’s allowed and even forgiven.
Manoj Bajpayee hits a huge sixer even at this time. You would ask- he always acts well. It wasn’t that tough for him. Infact, the fact that he is a great actor, also undermines his genius at times wherein people don’t pay attention to him and take him for granted. Exactly what happens here. There are scenes where Bajpayee makes a scene engaging only with his performance. It’s a dull scene on paper, but on screen, thanks to Bajpayee, you enjoy it. He makes you relate to the drama.
It’s a good feeling to watch Neena Gupta essay such a strong role- in terms of shades. Lately, she has shown what all she is capable of- all difficult characters. But she exudes warmth and belief. It is also because of her that thrill is felt. There is a scene when she enters Sood’s house when he is not at home. It’s a mundanely routine scene. But how Gupta walks and behaves fills you with horror.
Sakshi Tanwar has a smaller role, but she makes it a point to shine. She doesn’t go wrong and becomes the doting mother- who is strict but loving, and also stressed on what is going with her life. Good job.
Background score by Raju Singh does the needful. The sharp nature of the drama is heightened by well placed score.
Cinematography by Anuj Rakesh Dhawan is wonderful. The visual appeal is fantastic, a major reason why you absorb the drama even with its minuses. The usage of cool and warm lights is brilliant- symbolic yet rooted. Production design by Durgaprasad Mahapatra is simple but effective. It is one of those cases where less is more. The aura created through stylised lighting all through makes it a decent viewing experience.
Editing by Asif Ali Shaikh has been fairly done. There is no unnecessary harping or prolonged suspense. What is needed has been achieved. Where you had to stay, the drama stays. Where it needs to rush, you have rushed. The twists and developments also come in at correct points.
It is a decent film. Decent is the word. It is not what you expect it to be. It is not what it should have been. Enjoyable- yes. Entertaining- yes. Great- no.