Movie Review: The Stoneman Murders

By Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Certain cases remain unsolved. Period. Years later, a film-maker dons the robe of a detective and starts investigating the truth, digging deep into files and newspapers.

The West has often produced films that do their own investigation. Now this trend seems to be catching up in India as well. Last year, Neeraj Pandey presented a piece of fiction in A WEDNESDAY; a case that never came out of the police headquarters. This week, writer-director Manish Gupta picks up a startling, true-to-life story of a serial killer, merges fact and fiction and comes up with his take on what must've actually transpired almost three decades ago.

The serial killings that hit headlines in 1983 are depicted with utmost realism, but Manish Gupta avoids the blood and gore that come along with such themes. THE STONEMAN MURDERS is engaging, more so towards the second half, although there're a few discrepancies in the screenplay.

The conclusion to the tale is debatable, but at the same time you can't turn a blind eye to the fact that the orthodox and superstitious types still give in to the demands of the tantriks to this date.

Final word? THE STONEMAN MURDERS is a refreshing change from the crass and vulgar films churned out in the name of middle-of-the-road cinema. Watch it!

After the serial killer, aptly dubbed 'Stoneman' by the media, has just claimed his fifth victim, suspended sub-inspector Sanjay [Kay Kay Menon] decides to investigate the case. Sanjay hopes to track this killer down and thus, possibly find an entry back into the police force.

With the secret aid of his patronizing superior Satam [Vikram Gokhale], Sanjay takes up the arduous process of tracking this killer down. But the official investigator of the case, Inspector Kedar [Arbaaz Khan], clashes incessantly with Sanjay as both of them, separately, delve deeper into the case.

Even as the police jostle for leads and clues, the 'Stoneman' stalks the streets unabated, claiming victim after victim...

Although the serial killings occurred almost three decades ago, not once do you feel you're watching an outdated story that holds little significance today. The execution of the subject is interesting and a few sequences are remarkably told. Note the sequence when Kay Kay almost nabs the murderer in the subway and the chase that ensues on a railway platform. Even the identity of the killer comes as a surprise.

But the film has its share of hiccups. To start with, the sequence in the hospital towards the end, when the police nab the 'Stoneman', looks weird because minutes before this sequence, the police was absolutely sure that someone else had committed those heinous murders. Also, the sequences between the husband and wife [Kay Kay, Rukhsaar] are plain average. And what was the need for that bit of titillation, showing Rukhsar backless in a sequence?

As for the end, it's debatable. There're bound to be discussions. Some would agree with the conclusion, some wouldn't.

Manish Gupta does a commendable job, as the writer as also the director of the enterprise. The background score is appropriate. Cinematography is consistent. Since the film has been filmed mostly in the nights, the lighting is perfect.

Kay Kay is a competent actor, no two opinions on that, and he delivers yet another sparkling performance. Arbaaz is getting better with every film. Vikram Gokhale is flawless yet again. Rukhsaar is a complete natural. Virendra Saxena is first-rate.

On the whole, THE STONEMAN MURDERS is an engrossing fare that would appeal more to the multiplex junta of big centres.

Bollywood.com Rating: 2.5

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