A compelling tale of marriage and murder in a wealthy Indian family from first-time director Honey Trehan, Raat Akeli Hai, is reminiscent of the 2019 hit ‘Knives Out’. The film has a similar plot of a murdered patriarch with family members as immediate suspects.
Set in Kanpur, the story begins with a couple of brutal murders. There is a highway truck ‘accident’ in which a woman and her driver are killed. A few years later, we see an ageing, affluent Raghubeer Singh murdered on his wedding day. His young bride (Radhika Apte) and relatives are brought for questioning by struggling city policeman (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who consequently falls for the prime suspect of this case – Apte.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui could play this role in his sleep and is unfailingly good. The character’s secret beauty routine adds a fun layer to his otherwise tough persona. Radhika Apte, on the other hand, even with her character’s curbed potential, convinces us of the new bride’s inner strength and vulnerability. The peripheral cast is also top-notch. Armed with a slow burn gradual buildup, nowhere does the film stray from the issue at hand.
But for a murder mystery to be effective, the viewer has to be emotionally invested in the characters involved and despite some fantastic performances, this is where ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ wavers. The climax feels relatively sudden and convenient. In most crime thrillers, it is your desire to know the truth that forms the crux. Here too, you want to nab the culprit but the chain of events that comprise the investigation don’t keep you on the edge of your seat.
‘Raat Akeli Hai’ is darkly atmospheric and sufficiently twisty, but though it does telegraph a few of its punches, it is at times too tedious, failing to keep you hooked till the end.