Movie Review: Murder 2

We live in an era wherein brands and franchise have become the order of the day. When a movie works with the audience and also has strong recall value, the film-makers plan to keep the franchise breathing by either making a prequel or sequel. Though MURDER had released more than seven years ago [April 2004], it continues to linger in public memory for varied reasons and not only for its sizzle factor. MURDER had a spellbinding story, great music and proficient performances by its principal actors. In fact, MURDER catches the attention of spectators to this date and obtains high TRPs, despite several telecasts on TV. ‘Tremendous repeat value’, like they say in filmi parlance. Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt choose not to make movies with big stars. Instead, they substitute stars with big initiatives and innovative concepts. In fact, their penchant to work with a new cast and crew is simply unstoppable. Besides, the success ratio indicates that their strategy has paid off rich dividends even with fresh talent. What sets apart their films, besides the above said reasons, is the fact that their films are high on sexual content. An innovative story with generous doses of eroticism has always proved a winning blend. The Bhatts’ new offering is the sequel to MURDER. This one’s set in Goa during Christmas and New Year, when vacationers flock this hugely popular touristy destination. The bustling streets and beaches make it impossible for the authorities to keep tabs on everyone and everything.

Before I begin analyzing MURDER 2, let me clear a few misconceptions. The writer of this film may have drawn some inspiration from the Korean film THE CHASER [2008], but it’s not a blatant rip-off. Nor is it a remake or adaptation of the American action film 12 ROUNDS [2009]. MURDER 2 deals with the crimes related to the flesh trade and exposes the murkier side of the society.

MURDER 2 offers edge of the seat entertainment, thus taking the MURDER brand forward. It’s not a sequel in the true sense of the word. It has a completely new story to tell with fresh characters, is bolder and far more erotic, plus the clash between the good and the evil is one of the key components of the franchise. Mohit Suri, who had directed the sequel to RAAZ [RAAZ THE MYSTERY CONTINUES], is also entrusted the responsibility of taking the MURDER series forward. Compared to what Anurag Basu did in MURDER, MURDER 2 is a dark film. Mohit is an efficient, stylish storyteller and he leaps notches above the prequel in every aspect. There are some scenes that may appear disturbing, but that’s the strength of this movie. It’s not for the weak-hearted. In point of fact, Mohit and writer Shagufta Rafique take the story to a heightened violent level. Arjun [Emraan Hashmi] is an ex-cop who earns his bread doing the odd jobs for gangsters and flesh traders. Arjun meets Sameer, a Goan flesh-peddler, who has been suffering a huge loss as his hookers have been disappearing mysteriously. He assigns Arjun the responsibility of tracing the missing girls. Priya [Jacqueline Fernandez], a model, loves Arjun. However, he is hesitant to commit to this relationship. Arjun realizes that the missing hookers are connected by one cell phone number. He decides that in order to catch the lion one must feed him the lamb. He devises a plan that involves sending a girl to the particular customer. Reshma [Sulagna Panigrahi], a college student, takes to prostitution to support her family. She becomes the innocent prey and is sent to the antagonist Dheeraj’s [Prashant Narayan] house. The unexpected happens. In the meantime, Arjun and Dheeraj cross paths. Arjun gets into a tiff with Dheeraj and they both land up at the police station. Dheeraj admits to a crime so heinous that even the police are stunned by his outrageous behavior.

Now it’s all up to Arjun. He has just one night to find proof against Dheeraj and also trace Reshma. Director Mohit Suri and writer Shagufta Rafique come to the point at the very start, when a gruesome murder takes place. Thereafter, we are introduced to the varied characters in the plot and what makes it all the more interesting is that all characters are either grey or black. Also, the identity of the serial killer is never concealed, but the motive is, which one realizes much later. It comes as a jolt, honestly! While the screenplay gives you no time to ponder since it unravels at a feverish pace, the assorted characters and their tracks keep you on tenterhooks throughout. The victim finds herself cornered, the ex- cop is looking for evidence, the serial killer finds himself being shielded by a powerful and influential person… the sequence of events that lead to the culmination are truly nail-biting. On the flip side, the story stagnates slightly towards the beginning of the second hour. The sequence between Emraan and Jacqueline at the former’s home, with Jacqueline in an inebriated state, appears like a forced add-on. Also, one misses the chartbusting ‘Bheege Honth Tere’ kind of track in this hour, since the two songs that are hugely popular have been placed in the first hour.

Director Mohit Suri reignites the flicker that he illustrated in his early films. He’s a skilled, competent storyteller and this film reiterates the fact yet again. Ditto for writer Shagufta Rafique, who’s supremely talented as well. Though she may seem inspired from a source, Shagufta gives MURDER 2 her own color and shade. Both Mohit and Shagufta push the limits in terms of the characters and the situations that have been created. You just can’t guess what’s up in store next, which has ample scenes that would leave you startled and dazed. The Bhatts have always had a good track record as far as music goes and MURDER 2 is no exception. If one avoids comparing the soundtrack with the prequel, this film has a rich soundtrack that works well. ‘Haal E Dil’ [music: Harshit Saxena] and the track filmed on Yana Gupta at the onset, ‘Aa Zara’ [music: Sangeet Haldipur-Siddharth Haldipur], are first-rate compositions. Ravi Walia’s cinematography is top notch. Both Emraan and Prashant Narayanan vie for top honors. Emraan delivers a spirited performance, playing the angry guy to perfection. He’s so with the character. In fact, this would rank amongst Emraan’s most accomplished performances. Prashant is a dynamic actor — a fact that has been proved time and again. This film is sure to make people sit up and notice this wonderful talent. Stepping into Mallika’s shoes in the sequel is Jacqueline. Like Mallika, she takes the boldness quotient to the next level with her sexy avatar. She should grab a lot of eyeballs for the oomph factor, while her performance is decent. In fact, she gets little scope to display histrionics, but she makes a sincere attempt to portray her character with care.

Sulagna Panigrahi is a talent to watch out for. She’s first-rate. Sudhanshu Pandey enacts his part with a lot of confidence. Sandiip Sikcand surprises with a stellar act. Though a brief part, his performance adds a lot of spice to the proceedings. Shweta Kawatra shines in that lone sequence. Yana Gupta sizzles in the opening track.

On the whole, MURDER 2 is one of the finest crime stories to come out of the Hindi film industry. Also, as a film, it lives up to the expectations that you may associate from a sequel of a smash hit. This one’s bolder, more erotic and has a story that will astound and astonish you. The Bhatts have a winner on hand!

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