Ittefaq: A bland, plain-looking murder mystery
There is nothing ittefaq about the existence of Ittefaq
Quite a few things about Abhay Chopra's Ittefaq are completely opposite of what the title means - coincidence. Nothing seems coincidental. In other words, nothing happens by chance, not even a surprise here or a shock there. Nothing is organic. Ittefaq goes about its plot in laborious ways - against the very philosophy of coincidence. Dev Verma (Akshaye Khanna) has three days and three days only to solve the double murder case involving Vikram Sethi's (Siddharth Malhotra as a successful writer. It is interesting his name is in the same zip code as that of an actual great Indian writer while the only name-drop of a real-life author in the film involves Chetan Bhagat) wife Catherine and that of a lawyer, Shekar, both the cases seemingly unrelated. But Dev takes his sweet time with his interrogation. We get helpful text on screen informing us which day it is and on the second day, Dev is discovering new details of events that probably occurred over the course of a night. Does Dev have a rule that he won't interrogate his suspects for more than ten minutes a day? This when his superiors are breathing down his neck.
Cast: Siddharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha, Akshaye Khanna
Director: Abhay Chopra
Abhay Chopra gives us nothing. The film is plain looking, and the writing is bland. There are a few dimly lit corridors and a tube light that won't stop flickering till Dev takes a go at it but nothing is done with them. Chopra teases you with what appears to be a tracking shot but, again, no, he has no such ambitions. There is a mention of Gupt and you can tell Chopra is a fan, but you can also tell that he has learned nothing from Rajiv Rai. The film uses an interesting palette on its characters. Dev is always adorned in whites, crisp bespoke shirts with trousers. When we see Vikram for the first time, he is running away from the police, dressed in grey. He stumbles upon Maya (Sonakshi Sinha), who looks confused and preoccupied in her black and red. Dev is shown to be brilliant and sincere, but he is also never in uniform. Chopra makes it a point to never show the uniformed officials in good light - the constables, the inspectors and office-bearers in the station. A constable sleeps inside the jeep when a fugitive has just evaded them. They are overweight, unable to do physical jobs which stands out in front of a fit Dev Verma. An Inspector loves to dive into the food items offered wherever they go. One of them cannot keep up with Dev while climbing a flight of stairs and keeps bumping into people on their way down. Dev sits lost in his thoughts by the road but the inspector munches into a butta (corn-on-cob) while it is pouring down. A constable arrives to take a man for questioning and sneakily finishes the latter's beer. I can't tell you where Chopra is going with all these things but at least we know he can be consistent with a theme.
Also, it is a curious fact that there is nothing ittefaq about the existence of Ittefaq. It stands as the pillar of nepotism that Bollywood is known for. Leaving odd man Siddharth Malhotra aside, you can open your fingers one by one. It stars Sonakshi Sinha, daughter of Shatrughan Sinha. The other lead is of course Vinod Khanna's son Akshaye Khanna. Director Abhay Chopra is from the illustrious Chopra family, the grandson of B.R. Chopra. The film is produced by Dharma Productions and Red Chillies Entertainment, involving Karan Johar and Gauri Khan. The other huge thing is that nothing about Ittefaq is original. It is loosely based on Rajesh Khanna's Ittefaq (1969), directed by Abhay Chopra's uncle Yash Chopra. The makers announced that Ittefaq won't be promoted in any platform, making us scratch our heads wondering what exactly they are sacrificing. The decision, obviously, was no ittefaq.