Kuldip Patwal: I Didn’t Do It ! Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film
The concept is good: the common man always gets caught in the crossfire between politicians and big money. The execution, plain awful. Common man kills young politician, insists he didn't do it, the cops investigating think he might be telling the truth, and the courtroom melodrama that follows is the film. But so flawed you end up groaning and laughing helplessly.
Feb 1, 2018 By Manisha Lakhe

No matter how good the story or the cast is (and Deepak Dobriyal leads the ensemble cast), the direction is so flawed, you wonder why a straightforward story was needlessly told in a non-linear fashion going back and forth and back and forth for no practical purpose (except to pretend to be sophisticated).

This pretension falls on its face because the timeline - '11 years ago', '8 years ago' followed by a sudden '15 years ago' - is plain dumb, because none of the characters age at all. And not one character in the protagonist's family gets younger when they go 15 years back into the past.

So Kuldip is suspected of killing the Chief Minister of a state called Bharatsar at a political rally. The production team makes a lot of effort in recreating number plates of cars and auto rickshaws for the state, and the hard work is good. The cop is Anurag Arora (fits perfectly into the role) who speaks Haryanvi. He's typical, you think, comes to work late, slaps people around, but has a heart of gold because he actually makes inquiries into the murder suspect, does not accept bribe from parents of the murder suspect. The parents for some reason are the worst drawn characters. The dad looks much older than his mom. His mom is housewife, nagging auto-rickshaw driver dad to get masalas from the market, complaining about having to wash clothes, but is shown to be drinking local hooch from a bottle as she walks about the house. Clearly the alcohol isn't making her happy. And if she's drinking like that for 15 years, how come there is no change at all (not one alcoholic cough!) and her clothes last for fifteen years (she wears the same clothes at her son's court hearing! Clearly the flashback technique wasn't really well-thought out. The murder suspect son too has not aged at all, Deepak Dobriyal is himself. Ageless. And flashback makes no sense because it takes us back by a decade and a half.

On the other side of this failed Rashomon is the point of view of the political party: if you forgive the 'not ageing' then the story is told by the Chief Minister's wife who is too posh to fit into the Haryanvi setting. Her office as a prosecutor, is too posh. Her English does not fit into this film and her lifestyle argument is hollow: she leaves with her child and two empty bags (just two sad suitcases when her husband says she spent '10 lakhs on one dinner!'). The wife is played by Raima Sen, who is clearly miscast in this Haryanvi milieu, is shown doing very 'urban' things like 'hugging the husband when she comes back from work in a skirt and a shirt'. Clearly this is a small town, and if her husband is the Chief Minister (and his reaction to the hug is 'what are you doing?!', he pushes her away rather roughly saying that he was 'thinking') there would be protocols and their residence would be 'government bungalow'. Sigh. If we ignore these details, the weirdness of the politics - the young Chief Minister (played like a zombie by a wooden Parveen Dabas) promoting the caste based reservation - is really odd. And the eternal disgruntled politician (Vikram Kochar) does not have any substance but to be disgruntled. The inadvertently funny role of a business tycoon of 'Reliable Industries' (the name brought on unkind guffaws) is given to Jameel Khan who looks more like a small time fixer than a tycoon.

There is a defence advocate played by a man with a fake moustache and an even faker Punjabi-Haryanvi accent. Turns out, it is Gulshan Devaiah. He is court appointed, bleeding heart lawyer, whose personal life is shown to make us admire him. But if anyone were his wife, they would throw the spinach on his face when he does not allow her to order what she wants at a restaurant. That said, the court interactions between fake witnesses and his exposition is so tiring, you wish they would have a mooch malfunction to save you. There is a pointless twist after the credits but you have left the building with Elvis. And thank goodness.

Manisha Lakhe