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MONICA O MY DARLING (Netflix) - It is like a Raghavan film not directed by Raghavan, superbly incorporating the songs, ending on an underwhelming note. (Review by Bobby Sing)

13 Nov, 2022 | Just In / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / M / Movie Reviews / 2022 Releases

In a disappointing year with more duds and a few marginally likable films, MONICA O MY DARLING comes as a fresh breeze, reinstating music into the narrative, making you recall the good old times before 2000. In fact, it is the superb incorporation of well-composed and written songs in the first half that makes it a better film, forcing you to sit straight and enjoy the on-screen proceedings. A lost feature of our cinema, resurfacing in a new Hindi film after a long time.
Beginning with a shocking ‘new-age murder’ within the first few minutes, MOMD does not waste time in any typical build-up or introductions. Quickly dragging you into its world of scary robots, corporate rivalries, illegitimate affairs, blackmailing and planned murders, the film moves at a brisk pace and performances leave an impact in most of its intriguing sequences. However, the same cannot be said about the second half of the film, which has its dragging moments and an underwhelming revelation becoming a spoilsport.
Perfectly fitting into their given roles, MOMD is a performance-oriented project with both Huma Qureshi and Sikander Kher scoring the most, followed by Rajkummar Rao and Radhika Apte, continuing as the Netflix favourite getting a special mention in the credits. Apte plays an unusually cool character of an investigative officer, but there is a conscious effort visible in her act, which she is not known for. Also, I strongly felt the underrated Sukant deserved a few more scenes playing a crucial role in the script.
Made as a neo-noir murder mystery, the film gets its perfect look and feel from the timely inserted songs in both long and short forms. The cinematography, soundtrack, and background score remain the essence of the narration right from the word go (resulting in a much more enjoyable first half), including both the original tracks and the ones borrowed from the past. Surpassing the feel of ‘heard before’, the song Piya Tu Ab To Aaja’ from Caravan (1971) does the trick along with providing the title of the film. 
But this trend of following Sriram Raghavan, using the old hit songs in an inspired crime-drama, paying tribute to favourite films, serials and maestros in many indicative insertions is just on the verge of becoming repetitive as a set pattern. This time it works, but it will soon enter the phase of being termed as ‘typical’ by viewers as well as reviewers. 
Cautiously directed by Vasan Bala, MOMD has strong influences of both Raghavan and Tarantino styles of filmmaking. While the font, colour and styling in the opening credits remind you of QT’s Jackie Brown, the entire film is like ‘a Raghavan film not directed by Raghavan’.
That said, what Bala does with fresh songs (Achint Thakkar) and lyrics (Varun Grover) results in something even better than Raghavan at times, recreating the old world. At the same time, Bala is also too attentive to make those deliberate additions like the TV in a shot playing a scene of Johnny Gaddaar, the names of directors written on a board and refrences to a sci-fi TV serial of the 80s.
Such insertions do not appear to be organic and it also makes me wonder that should a filmmaker keep on adding the names of the films/icons he follows or loves in his every film just for the sake of it? The additions look justified in the first film of a writer/director as a loving tribute, but what’s the need of doing that every time in a film following a fixed pattern? 
Continuing with the downers, Bala proves his expertise in dealing with layered storytelling, but then, MOMD is yet again not any original film, just like the movies of Sriram Raghavan, including his most famous Johnny Gaddaar (an undisclosed adaptation).
The fact might not be disappointing for many, but it surely affects the overall impact of a film when you come to know that it is officially adapted from a Japanese mystery novel “Burutasu No Shinzou” by Keigo Higashino, which has also been made as a TV film “Brutus’ Heart” (2011), with an exactly similar beginning and story progression. Thankfully, the original source has been duly mentioned in the credits.
Overall, despite the shortcoming of not being an original work, strictly following ‘the Raghavan pattern’ of crime-based dramas, MONICA O MY DARLING is surely worth watching, as one of the better if not best Hindi films of 2022. More importantly, it deserves to be seen because it makes the Hindi filmmakers recall how songs used to be the major uplifters of our cinema before 2000 and how they even became an integral part of many suspense and crime dramas, bringing the viewers onto the edge of their seats adding to the excitement.  
Rating: 3.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the soundtrack including the praiseworthy fresh songs and lyrics maintaining the old-world charm)  

(Note: When a film works at OTT then many start expressing that this should have been released in theatres. However, the sad and eye-opener truth is that Hindi film viewers are not known for watching this kind of film in theatres making it a big hit. So, though nothing can be predicted in the world of cinema, a theatrical release in this case, would have not helped the film get such a wider audience.) 

Bobby Sing

Tags : MONICA O MY DARLING Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Hindi Adaptation of Japanese novel and films, Hindi Films inspired from World Cinema
13 Nov 2022 / Comment ( 2 )

Sir special mention, they have used Local Artists singing in Asha ji, Rafi saab and Hemant Da voices.
Farsh par khade being my favourite. this guy really made me think Hemant da is still alive and singing 

Bobby Sing

Yes, thats right and an encouraging move too for the singers indeed.

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