A Simple Murder review: Spirited caper that inspires fine performances from an ensemble cast

A Simple Murder on SonyLIV is a fine black comedy that depends heavily on suspension of disbelief.

Udita Jhunjhunwala November 20, 2020 10:49:15 IST
A Simple Murder review: Spirited caper that inspires fine performances from an ensemble cast

Amit Sial in A Simple Murder. YouTube

Language: Hindi

There is a rat in Manish’s kitchen, so what is he gonna do? Well, nothing at first, till it all blows up in his face — quite literally. Manish (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) is a non-starter who conjures up a failed start-up idea. His impatient, money-hungry, social climbing wife Richa (Priya Anand) has given up on his schemes and promises of a bed of money, finding comfort in the company of her sleazy boss Rahul (Ayaz Khan).

A voiceover (Vijay Raaz) reminds us of the importance of coincidence, and how a twist of fate can upturn a story. Such a quirk lands Manish in the wrong place where a case of mistaken identity results in him being commissioned a hit job. Writers Akhilesh Jaiswal and Prateek Payodhi explore what happens when an unqualified person, desperate to rescue a deteriorating marriage, takes on a seemingly simple murder. 

In a parallel track, Priya (Tejasvi Singh) and Usmaan (Ankur Pandey), a young couple, are on the run from a conservative politician father and the threat of an honour killing. A third story follows Santosh (Amit Sial), a retiring assassin, and his paramour. There is also Manish’s mentor, a gun-for-hire (Sushant Singh) who becomes the former’s style icon and reluctant partner and Pandit (Yashpal Sharma) who runs a slick and successful human extermination business. If these characters have anything in common it is infidelity, greed, lack of integrity, and self-interest. 

The black comedy depends heavily on suspension of disbelief. The story hurtles from one botched job to another, evidenced by Manish’s fumbles to execute his first hit, and the inept police investigation into the murder, with Gopal Dutt as the presiding officer rehashing his comedic template. Vikram Kochhar plays his sharper subordinate.

The infantile scenes of bungled police work aside, director Sachin Pathak stays loyal to the genre. Over seven episodes we move out of Manish and Richa’s 1BHK onto a crazy ride, with the myriad characters brought together by a couple of cases of mistaken identity, a missing bag of money, and blinding greed.

Writing and scene influences skirt the borders of comic crime dramas such as Knives Out and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The animated opening credits establish the Pink Panther-ish rhythm with Karsh Kale’s music underscoring the frenzy. The actors do the rest. Sial and Singh are in their elements, and get wonderful scenes to play off each other. Sharma’s Pandit is a smartly written and crackling character. Ayyub is the tether, conveying Manish’s conflicts, glee, and rite of passage, as his actions move the plot along. The rat also puts in a fine performance in this spirited caper.

Rating: ***

A Simple Murder is streaming on SonyLIV.

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