Manorama Six Feet Under Hindi Movie Review
I loved Manorama- Six Feet Under, even though I am still a little confused about its decidedly strange title and its exact significance. Director Navdeep Singh's debut feature is something extremely rare in Bollywood - an intriguing, textured, moody and exceedingly well crafted suspense drama.
The film, said to be loosely inspired by Roman Polanski's Chinatown isn't ashamed to show off its influences from the above film, and even humbly pays tribute to it, cleverly referencing it- including a scene where Abhay Deol is watching the classic film on television. But Manorama can by no means be called a rip off- as many of the themes in Manorama are, in fact common elements of film noir- the genre this film primarily belongs to.
Satyaveer Singh aka SV (Abhay Deol) is an interesting, even somewhat melancholic character, an unsuccessful writer of pulp trash novels, the kind that usually find their way into small stalls in railway stations, with titles like Inteqaam Ki Raat and Khooni Khanjar. He lives with his wife (Gul Panag) and little son and spends most of his time getting nagged by his spouse and drinking with his best buddy- a police inspector who is also his brother-in-law (Vinay Pathak)- having been suspended from his day job as a junior engineer for receiving bribe. His only novel, Manorama sold only 200 copies, and he is so ashamed of it that he refuses to even keep a copy of it for himself.
One of these copies has been read by Manorama, a mysterious lady (an enigmatic Sarika) who comes down to SV's place one day, and introduces herself as the state irrigation minister's (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) wife and hires him as a detective to spy on her husband, who she suspects is having an affair. But all is not what it seems, as the lady turns out to be someone else and soon enough, is murdered. Satyaveer, desperate to get away from the sheer monotony of his life and prove his worth, even if only to him, starts investigating the crime and is soon embroiled in a web of crime, lies, scandals and deceit.
The story's many twists and turns are laid out in an expert, mature and subtle fashion by the director as the film progresses smoothly, even if a tad slowly in the middle. The film is languorously paced but is still gripping, with some good writing and superb, sharp dialogues from Abhinav Kashyap. Some of the lines, especially the ones mouthed by Vinay Pathak, are extremely witty and funny, and elicit innumerable chuckles.
Another notable aspect of the film is the awesome and neatly framed cinematography by Aravind Kannabiran capturing the dusty sand bowls of Rajasthan splendidly. It truly creates a whole world of its own and gives the film much of its great character. The background score and seamless editing also perfectly complement the mood of the film.
Abhay Deol shines in what is another brave acting choice by the young actor. Abhay is extremely likeable and endearing and gives what is definitely his best performance yet. After some good work in Ek Chalis Ki Last Local- this film allows Abhay to truly come into his own. Restrained, real and totally in the skin of his character, he shows admirable growth as an actor. Manorama also marks a departure from the 'cute guy' roles that the actor has usually been associated with, and sees him turn from a boy to a man.
Gul Panag deserves a special mention, adding warmth to what could otherwise be an irritating caricature of a character. She also shares some nice chemistry with Abhay, and their scenes together come across as extremely natural.
Vinay Pathak, as usual, is a delight to watch, and the rest of the talented ensemble cast including Raima Sen, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda are impressive, and give strong, credible performances.
Here's two thumbs up for Navdeep Singh who makes a confident, assured debut with Manorama and is definitely a talent to look out for in the future. Go and watch Manorama sans expectations and you'll be very pleasantly surprised. And<