Monica O My Darling, You Were Disappointing!
Director Vasan Bala got trapped while choosing between making a murder mystery, musical, and a sex comedy
I watched Monica O My Darling with great hopes of seeing a powerful thriller. What else can you expect with a stellar cast composed of excellent actors Raj Kumar Rao, Huma Quereshi and Radhika Apte"? But the film is truly disappointing on every count, beginning with a massively jumbled and cryptic crossword with the solutions missing.
Naming a thriller after a hit number composed by R.D. Burman and belted out with doses of exotica, and heavy breathing by none other than the sensuous voice of Asha Bhonsle, does not necessarily make for a solid thriller. Director Vasan Bala got trapped while choosing between making a murder mystery, a musical, a sex comedy and so on. As a consequence, the film turns out to be an unhappy mishmash of all of these or none at all.
First of all, robotics is something most of us do not understand except by scouring Wikipedia and/or Google, leaving wide margins of understanding. Secondly, I was stunned to see that the buxom woman performing an item number at a grand office function is not an item dancer but company secretary to the top boss who she also gives medicines to! She is truly multi-talented! The film is named after this very sexy Monica Machado portrayed with much aplomb and great cool by Huma Quereshi. Thirdly, till the end, the script all but gives out the person who began the string of murders but nothing about who he is and why he is such a compulsive killer and obsessive lover. Fourthly, if Jayesh is such a whizz kid with robotics, why did he not use the remote to save himself when attacked instead of getting himself almost killed by the same robot that killed the killer's first victim?
The originality in the script lies in Bala's unique fleshing out of every character in the film as people with their connivances, manipulations and diabolic plans instead of being epitomes of lily-white purity and symbols of innocence. This includes Rajkumar Rao who portrays Jayesh, who knows exactly how to butter his bread on the right side by getting himself officially hooked to the big boss Satyanarayan's (Vijay Kendkre) stupid daughter Nikki (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor).
He does not like her, and is later scared stiff when he finds her talking coolly of getting the boyfriend of a cousin bumped off for ditching her. He cannot imagine breaking off as that will destroy the small town guy's dreams of once holding the reins of the huge robotics company where he is now pronounced a member of the Board of Directors! When in one scene, he brags to Monica that he is brilliant and got his position through his academic brilliance she tells him straight that he is a big-time dreamer from a small town who is good only at manipulating people and/or licking their feet!
Satyanarayan's son Nishikant (Sikandar Kher) , unhappy because his father ignores him, and bends backwards in praise of Jayesh, is the best among the entire cast, though his role is not big. But the character, like the others, is paper-thin and is neither here nor there.
Jayesh has a sizzling affair going with Monica who claims she is pregnant with his child. She expects him to bear the expenses. Jayesh learns to his shock that she is smoothly blackmailing two other men, Nishikant and another executive who keeps claiming that he is "happily married". Nishikant chalks out a diabolic plan forcing the other two men she was involved with, to get rid of Monica.
Add to the scenario the strange twist in the tale when a lady cop (Radhika Apte) enters the scene to investigate the murder of Nishikant while Monica is alive and kicking and taking generous swigs of whiskey never mind the pregnancy. But is she really pregnant? We never really know because she too, is bumped off and we never see her again.
Radhika Apte puts on a frivolous act most unbecoming of a lady cop and though the performance is very good, the "wit" she displays is misplaced and devoid of dignity. It fails to bring across the humour the director was possibly aiming at.
Last but never the least, one must mention the modus operandi of the killings which is as bizarre as it is absurd and lacks the minimum logic a thriller demands. Logic is something that the director and the script are blissfully unaware of, a necessary ingredient in any murder mystery recipe.
Gaurav (Sukant Goel), the obsessive lover of Jayesh's sister Sarika (Zayn Marie Khan) is not given any back story. Even his obsessive love for Sarika does not come out well. The first killing which shows the victim's head being twisted by the huge robot raises big hopes of a horror-style thriller but this never happens.
The theme song of Monica, O My Darling, from the box office hit Caravan (1971) is good to begin with but gets jarring as the film moves on. Achint Thakkar's background music is good and suitably mood-centric but so generous along the sound track that at times, one feels the film is a musical! Is it? You find out.
Atanu Mukherjee must have had a rough time putting the loose ends of a very loose script together to make it look credible. But the high production values in terms of the colours, the lighting, the plush locations and the interior décor veils any anomaly in the editing, if any. There is a lot of dark humour stitched into this patchwork quilt but it fails to make the film click the way it should. Even Rajkmar Rao appears like a glamorous extra in the film.