So we are to have a string of detective films making their way to celluloid this year including the likes of Bobby Jasoos, Jagga Jasoos, Byomkesh Bakshi and the lesser known Samrat & Co. While the first one Joe B Carvalho of the year turned out to be a damp squib, the second this year in the detective category comes an International TV Series' Sherlock Holmes rip off Samrat & Co. Would the Indian Sherlock Holmes work? We tell you.
Samrat & Co. is about Samrat Tilakdhari (Rajeev Khandelwal) aka STD (yes, that's also supposed to be cool), a smart-ass private investigator who's always on a lookout for cases that challenge his intellect. One fine day, a young, beautiful and rich girl Dimpy Singh (Maddalsa Sharma) approaches Samrat with an obscure case of a withering garden with reasons unknown. While the horticulturists are continuing their futile investigation on what's going wrong, the residents are owing it to some supernatural activity. And now, things seem to be affecting Dimpy's father Mahendra Pratap Singh (Girish Karnad) whose health is deteriorating alarmingly. Dimpy's case fascinates Samrat enough (don't ask why) and along with his friend cum assistant Chadradhar Pandey (Gopal Datt) (death of Dr. Watson seriously!) visit the mansion of Mahendra Pratap Singh in Himachal Pradesh to unravel the mystery.
Rajshri Productions that's synonymous with family drama makes a shift with a murder mystery offering and blame it on producer Kavita Barjatya to bring a shift in a shoddy manner. Director Kaushik Ghatak twists and turns events moving from one thing to another with the idea to make a mind bending murder mystery. However, what he ends up with is a hotchpotch of various plots which are introduced one after another only to connect the dots.
The production house that's always been known for films with countless actors fails this time to do justice with the starcast too. The title role bearer and once upon a time Television heartthrob Rajeev Khandelwal seems to be struggling in getting his act together for some time. Except for this half decent performance in Table No. 21 the actor doesn't have much to boast of in the recent times. And maybe so, he falters miserably in his portrayal of Sherlock played effortlessly by Benedict Cumberbatch in the international series. He tries emulating Benedict what with all the arrogance and eccentricity but blame it on the tawdry character sketch, the actor falls flat and also annoys after a point as he flaunts and brags about his intelligence and mouths the "Samrat-isms".
Maddalsa Sharma does what's expected of a typical heroine in such films, deck up like a doll in every sequence. So even when the rest of the cast is covered in heaps of clothes owing to the winters, our heroine is cackling her stilettos donning short dresses.
The side cast including the likes of Smita Jaykar, Girish Karnad, Rajneesh Duggal, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Barkha Bisht, Indraneil Sengupta, Naveen Prabhakar etc. all ham with great gusto throughout the film making for an unbearable watch.
Even the production quality of the film is mediocre. You have sloppy chroma work to create a scenic ambience around the dilapidating mansion and graphic work which even a kid can point out to be unreal.
To sum it up, Rajshri Banner should stick to what best they are known for - family dramas. Their effort to make the shift falls flat on its face. Best avoided.