I use mystery and suspense here interchangeably. Mystery, of course, refers to a puzzle that needs to be solved. The suspense gets created from the audience wondering what will happen next. HIT: The First Case, remake of director Sailesh Kolanu’s Telugu film of the same name, is decidedly more a mystery
Rajkummar Rao and Sanya Malhotra. Pic/PR
HIT: The First Case
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Sanya Malhotra
Director: Dr Sailesh Kolanu
Here’s a question I have for you as an audience, especially of murder-mysteries/suspense-thrillers: Does your enjoyment/engagement with a story depend entirely on the denouement, or the payback, when all the loose/unexplained strings of a plot get resolved, or come together, eventually? Or are you reasonably satisfied still, so long as you’ve remained glued to the screen, right up till the end in the first place; what more do you want?
I use mystery and suspense here interchangeably. Mystery, of course, refers to a puzzle that needs to be solved. The suspense gets created from the audience wondering what will happen next. HIT: The First Case, remake of director Sailesh Kolanu’s Telugu film of the same name, is decidedly more a mystery.
In the sense that two female characters in this film mysteriously go missing. Their disappearance could be inter-related. First is a young girl, who went out for a drive and never returned. The second (Sanya Malhotra) is a forensics expert, who was girlfriend of the lead character (Rajkummar Rao); who, in turn, is a hardcore, investigative cop himself.
The HIT here obviously doesn’t refer to the film’s fate at the box-office (it did rather well in Telugu, I’m told). It’s abbreviation for Homicide Intervention Team, a special cop force of sorts, in the manner of, say, SIT (Special Investigation Team), that most state police constitute for high-profile crimes.
The film is set in Rajasthan, specifically Jaipur, it seems — especially Jaipur’s Ring Route Toll booth on CCTV footage, where a curious piece of the puzzle is embedded; giving you also a sense of how world-class India’s highways look on screen, compared to the dumps we used to travel through in the ’90s. Sure there are rhythm issues, and the story here doesn’t quite unfold as seamlessly/smoothly as those roads. You’re hooked alright.
The film’s adequately got the dark feels for a drama exploring the underbelly. At the centre is Rao as the cop, of course. This is his first action film; meaning so much a heart-pumping action as extensive mortal combat scenes, fist fights, etc. These sequences are solid. As is Rao, no doubt. He hasn’t overly bulked himself as a hulk for this part. But no state cop looks like Rambo either. He shows up, looking totally washed out, going through personal hell, suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pyrophobia, experiencing panic attacks, on occasion. I guess we weren’t as familiar with these terms from psychology, when actors like Al Pacino (Heat) played such parts back in the day.
The cop here is advised complete rest by his therapist, which must include resigning from his uniformed job. As with a lot of people with similar issues, the cop finds sufficient solace/distraction in work itself. The lack of which will make his life worse, he believes.
Beyond an action film or indeed a mystery or suspense-thriller, HIT is a police procedural. The case is personal for the lead character. Because it involves him directly. Such stories are often called a ‘slow burn’. That was Mare of Easttown. This is anything but. The script is too tight for a deeper meditation. Yet, if you’re a sucker for good lines, helps to have one in a genre flick too. Loved the one where the cop explains how there are two types of police: “One is the [actual] police, that stops others from doing what they shouldn’t. The other is the moral police, that stops others from doing what they wished to have done themselves, but couldn’t.”
This officer otherwise isn’t a major philosopher hero. Neither do the other characters seem as obviously one-note villains. The events don’t occur like predictive text. You’re intrigued enough to figure what’ll hit you. It’s perfectly okay if nothing earth-shattering does. Where do people most commonly access such crime fiction, lately? Besides books, on podcast and OTT series, usually. Whether it’s delusion or laudable self-confidence, HIT has been released as the first part of a film series.
Hence, titled First Case. The Second Case, guessing already in the works, is supposedly to be a prequel. Whether I’ll wait with excitement for that is another matter. This one holds your attention through and through, and that’s about as much as one should hope for anyway.
What about the end, now that you’ve managed to stay up for it, after all? Ah, I’m not sure you’re going to be particularly pleased with that one, bro! I certainly wasn’t. But then, as a character spouts the lovely cliché about life here: “It’s not the journey or the destination that matters. What matters most is the company.” Was happy to be here for the while it lasted.