By Subhash K. Jha
Film: "Right Yaaa Wrong"; Starring: Sunny Deol, Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen-Sharma, Esha Koppikar; Director: Neerraj Pathak; Rating: ***
Don't breathe. Don't dare even blink. And please forget that visit to the loo. Damn, even the bag of popcorn will be forgotten on your clenched lap.
"Right Yaaa Wrong" is the surprise shocker of the year. If you've forgotten that jump-out-of-the-seat feeling then it's time to nudge it awake again.
Debutant director Neerraj Pathak deserves a welcoming salute. He puts together a thriller that's as much a homage to Alfred Hitchcock and Brian de Palma as our own Abbas-Mustan.
"And Right Yaaa Wrong" still emerges original and strong.
An intricate jigsaw that always stays a step ahead of the audience, "Right Yaaa Wrong" makes a penetrating comment on how the country's legal system can be subverted by a clever hand. More importantly the taut and briskly-paced script suggests that the yin and yang concepts of right and wrong are not only ambivalent but also interchangeable when the context is right.
Sunny Deol, back in shape in every which way, plays a cop who in the first two reels loses the power to walk. But the narration simply sprints along through a series of unpredictable twists and turns that take the striking characters across a maze of intrigue and conspiracy.
Truly, the screenplay is far superior to its execution. And that's entirely a comment on the above-average calibre of the writing.
Writers Girish Dhamija, Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan and Neerraj Pathak pack in a walloping punch in both pre-and post-interval hours.
The characters and their motivations address themselves to adventure-thriller-suspense world of James Hadley Chase and Sidney Sheldon. The men are brave and heroic, clever and fearless. Even when cuckolded, Deol is dignified in the embrace of betrayal.
Editor Ashfaq Makrani juxtaposes moments of tense suspense with glimpses of heightened poignancy. This is murder in mellow shades.
The cop's wife played by Esha Koppikar is unabashedly wanton. Outwardly she's the duty-bound cop's home-bound wife with a perfect home and cute son (Ali Haji). Scratch the surface and there emerges a woman who's sleeping with the cop's kid-brother. Ouch.
Shades of Bipasha from Abbas-Mustan's Race? Yes? But don't let this hectic whodunit's antecedents bother you. The storytelling takes wings from the word go. And we are swept ahead. As the characters go from 'bed' to worse. However the people in Pathak's pacy plot are so hurriedly propelled to their nemesis that we never get close enough to any of them to understand their inner world.
The depths are discarded for the dips and curves. The performances are even and well-informed. Sunny Deol in a role that requires him to sublimate his pain in a status of stoicism gets it just right. Irrfan creates ample space for himself in a role that's sketchy for starters but gathers substance as the yarn progresses.
Konkona Sen Sharma as the stereotypical sympathetic shoulder gets rid of her set expressions and comes up with a performance of restrained bravura in the courtroom.
And Esha Koppikar plays the thankless role of the unfaithful wife and a disgraceful mother with much relish.
Here's a film that extends the borders of morality. It does so in the commercial language without resorting to crass situations and dialogues. For fans of Sunny Deol's fist-friendly image here's the actor telling us that strength is sometimes a matter of holding back rather than letting it all hang out.
Bollywood.com Rating: 3.5