Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Tejpal’s debut may be uneven but it's certainly not short of momentum." | Photo: Jungle Book Studio

It’s late at night on the station platform where Jumpha (Mia Maelzer) has taken shelter with her baby for the night. She is asleep when her little girl is taken from her arms, an event that will set in motion a thriller that snowballs as it goes, although subtlety is never its strong point. Gautam (Abhishek Banerjee) is also asleep at the station, although in the distinctly more plush surroundings of a high-end SUV. He’s waiting for his brother Raman (Shubham) to arrive for their mother’s wedding. This is the brisk set-up for Karan Tejpal’s debut feature, which sets the haves and have nots of Indian society on a collision course.

Raman arrives just in time to catch a glimpse of the baby snatcher but soon finds himself a suspect in the kidnapping. It's a melodramatic start that indicates neither the rich nor the poor get a lot of help from the police in India. But if Raman is having a little local difficulty, Jumpha’s chances of getting any real help from the police are even more bleak and so, despite his brother’s reservations he becomes determined to help her get her child back.

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Although there seems to be some intent to scrutinise the inequalities of India’s class system, Tejpal is really more interested in setting up the film’s thriller elements as the brothers and Jumpha soon find themselves on their own mission to find the kid, while also being pursued by local mobs who think that the brothers are in fact the culprits. The plot is further complicated by the fact that Jumpha has a secret of her own. Story, here, however, becomes secondary to action as the trio find themselves in a series of car chases. Tejpal is evidently working with a low budget but he and cinematographer Isshaan Ghosh make the most of the cramped confines of the car and the narrow gullies of the natural landscape during the chase scenes to give them a punch of adrenaline. The sight of mobs wielding big sticks rather than guns also adds a visceral quality, although guns inevitably follow.

Once the trio get separated from one another, the film starts to become a bit ragged at the edges, with the director not quite able to juggle both sets of threats successfully, so that he loses rather than gains tension by the decision. The three are, however, united for a solid conclusion that, again, nods to a class system that is deeply ingrained. Tejpal’s debut may be uneven but it's certainly not short of momentum.

Reviewed on: 04 Sep 2023
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Two brothers try to rescue a baby that has been stolen from its mother.

Director: Karan Tejpal

Writer: Agadbumb, Gourav Dhingra, Karan Tejpal

Starring: Abhishek Banerjee, Sahidur Rahaman, Mia Maelzer, Harish Khanna, Shubham, Ankit Sain

Year: 2023

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: India

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