Bypass Road Movie Review: Too many twists tarnish the travel
We might not be able to guess what the proverbial twist in the tale is, but there are so many red herrings that we know it's coming all the same
One suicide, or is it? One accident, or is it? One positive character, or is it? One Neil Nitin Mukesh... or...nope, that joke's too old now. Armed with almost 76 and a half twists, all crammed into the final act, Bypass Road, starring Neil (who has also written the film), wishes to be a nail-biting thriller. It wants to keep the audience guessing until the last moment. But...
Director: Naman Nitin Mukesh
Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Adah Sharma, Gul Panag
Having written the film, and roped in his brother, Naman Nitin Mukesh, to be the director, it is clear that Bypass Road is essentially a showreel of sorts for the two brothers. Making the protagonist Vikram wheelchair-bound provides ample scope for performance and Neil does give it his all. Making Vikram the product of a dysfunctional family allows him to shout, "You are not my mom" at Romila (Gul Panag), and longingly stare at photo frames. But let me not do what Neil did in terms of screenplay, and go all non-linear. Let's start at the beginning.
Neil plays a conniving, but successful fashion designer, Vikram Kapoor, the son of a multi-millionaire who has a lavish bungalow in the middle of nowhere aka Alibaug. The cold open shows Neil fleeing a scene and through the opening credits, we are filled in on why he is doing so. An accident, a suicide, and a hospital sojourn later, Neil is now wheelchair-bound and has a heady mix of inferiority complex, anger issues, and people who are out to kill him. Can't blame them because Neil sleeps with his employee/supermodel Sarah Breganza (Shama Sikander) till he learns she is someone else's mangetar. His moral compass suddenly wakes up and he drops her like last season's fashion trend. And promptly begins to woo another employee/intern Radhika (Adah Sharma) the very next day. We know there's a harassment complaint lurking right around the corner, and Neil, the writer, realises it too. So, what he does is throw in an unnecessary MeToo reference, and immediately tries to distract us with one more twist.
In Bypass Road, Neil is shown to be an expert chess player and it is said that he will cheat to win a game even if it is with his adolescent step-sister. Neil has done grey characters so well that not for a second do we believe things are as they seem. A good thriller needs to play its cards close to its chest, but in Bypass Road, Neil plays it too close. We might not be able to guess what the proverbial twist in the tale is, but there are so many red herrings that we know it's coming all the same. This also gives us the feeling of being better than the police in this film, and rightly so.
It is not that Neil's writing is inadequate, it is just too much. The same can be said about the technical department too. The idea of giving Bypass Road a very campy treatment is fun, but the makers overdo it. Even the background score, which gives a 70s feel, overstays its welcome so much that I half-expected Dev Anand to jump out from behind one of the trees in Vikram's bungalow.
On the flip side, there's scene where the antagonists come to a conclusion to bump off Vikram. And what do we see there? A graffiti that says "Safety is Cheers, Accident is Tears." Bypass Road desperately needed more such irreverence and less indulgence. It is fun when you see a lit match segueing into the moon, but these edit patterns go out of hand soon. You can't just have an important character falling from the terrace and cut to a bouncing ping-pong ball.
Such over-indulgence, combined with an unnecessarily convoluted screenplay, is what makes Neil Nitin Mukesh's writing debut less of the nail-biting thriller he wants it to be and more just a passable detour.