An Jo’s note on RAAT AKELI HAI

I quite loved RAAT AKELI HAI! There are so many things going on in the movie – it is like a labyrinth of emotions, moods, and the nightly colors. It covers so much, that the whodunit mystery is the least on your minds, though very smartly, the makers give you a clue that what ‘starts’ at home hits you at ‘home.’! Casteism, class-privilege, money, position, power, inferiority/superiority complexes, everything is dealt here; and the best part is, it is never preachy but veers you toward thinking about them.

Nawaz is terrific here – it’s become a joke but what else can one expect of him – and is a hoot with the mirror scenes; stealing Fair and Lovely whenever he gets a chance. His banter with Ila Arun — and what a delight she is here — is the best part of the movie; and his screaming ‘Mummy’ whenever water runs out is, well, something only he can achieve. He’s always been terrific, but where he held me by the throat was not in the Hollywood-decorated ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ but in KAHAANI where he played a hard-ass cop. He really kicks it up a notch when he plays a hardened and a system-defying cop; almost like the spirit of Bachchan from INQUILAAB takes him over. Watch him deal with his superior Tigmanshu Dhulia, or his counterpart Nandu, or Munna Raja, and you will get the gist. Horribly disappointed with Radhika Apte’s act; never thought I would say this.

It’s a beautiful mood-piece; the last one of which I saw from the Hindi film industry was TALAASH – and way back in 2012!

It stretches and out-lives its welcome in the second half, but as I said, it never is the destination, but the journey that was important here. The casting is pitch-perfect here; no wonder with Honey Trehan at the helm.

Man, why I miss the big old theater experience? The cinematography is terrific here. The first scene of the truck’s lights pinning down on an Ambassador is so terrific to watch, I cursed myself for not seeing that shot on the big screen. And the Nawaz’s escape with Radhika; and the chase in Kanpur – or just even, Nawaz stopping the bike on a bridge where Nandu blasts him about Radhika playing him like a violin.

Highly, highly recommended; only if you are into slow-burn movies.

21 Responses to “An Jo’s note on RAAT AKELI HAI”

  1. I also quite liked it; loved the exchange between Nawaz and Ila…I think towards the end it unwinded very fast…And then Kanpur, Jajmau..and those narrow lanes..I am pretty sure you can find it in many places in India but name attachment (having lived there) gave good feeling.

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  2. tonymontana Says:

    Great note, as always. I enjoyed watching it too, though I won’t shy away from saying that the impact of constant references to classism and casteism in films is beginning to wear thin now. Not that it isn’t necessary, but the plot takes a backseat when the focus is a little too much on the milieu.

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  3. Very good reading of the film. Enjoyed the film as well as this take of the film by you. I liked Radhika’s presence as it adds some mystery to the proceedings.

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  4. Did not like it so much and agree with you totally on Radhika Apte
    Maybe because the patriarchy bit is wearing thin by now.
    Liked the guy who was Nawazb’s subordinate. He was in Pataal lok as well

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  5. I liked it too, but my experience was a bit reversed . I found it hard to jhelo the first 30 minutes but after that I was totally into it.
    I did find the Kothi and the household of the Thakur very stereotypical, garish and unreal.
    There were simply too many turns of conveniences , matlab Nawaz will get the next evidence at the right time and place and without much effort .
    The biggest flaw was the CC recording inside the house with Batti Gul, I mean really !!!!
    Also I found Nawaz a bit uncomfortable, unconvincing and stiff in some scenes. Thoda overacting bhee laga mujhey usska .

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    • —————–SPOILER ALERT ——————( MAY BE NOT )

      Another unconvincing scene was the sudden / abrupt / highly coincidental appearance of the Mom of the maid in a crucial scene to give Aahuti of the bad guy.

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      • I thought she was dadi?
        Her presence was unexplained that too in unknown location in a chase.But I guess they wanted to make it poetic.

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      • —————MASSIVE SPOILER ———————————-

        ya, Dadi but what about CC functioning inside the house and that too in the dark with batti gul .
        Also within two hours to receive a call, absob the implications , come up with a plan , go to the MLA’s house , convince him and the MLA in turn arranging for the hit- all in less than two hours- logistically impossible sa lagta hai .
        Lekin art film hai toh sab chalta hai I guess.

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        • It was not CC but the marriage video. But the 2 hr timeline is a stretch of course.

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          • Sorry Marriage Video , but who records in the dark , that too of the stairs going up , specially in a small UP town in an era where there were no or few cell phones .
            Now if one says the camera was on a tripod, then why would it focus on the stairs ?
            I liked the movie , but these little obvious things when ignored Kyonki art film hai bothers me.
            Housefull -4 or WAR kee dus kamiyan nikal dengey log abhee.

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  6. Are Munna saab, pehele bol dete ki isko post banayenge toh aur thoda bheja fry kar leta! Kidding! This didn’t deserve a post but thanks!

    @Rocky/Latha:

    I agree that it is far from convincing as a whodunit, conveniences galore. That’s where the film goes down; But I was so absorbed by the moodiness of the film I was less concerned about pieces fitting the puzzle.

    On Nawaz, I would dis-agree, in the sense that he is stiff initially. Because, if you look at it, he is coming from a background of insecurities, age, ‘rang saaf nahi hai’ [I loved that part in the marriage function; that’s exactly how women react to dark-skinned proposals in the Hindi belt]. So from that point-on, I think he goes on getting some sort of confidence ‘outside’ of his home. Because at home, he’s constantly reminded of his so-called ‘shortcomings.’ He’s really into his own when he says, ‘JAANJH TOH KARKE RAHENGE.’ But then again he’s stopped by Apte who’s challenging his notions of a ‘decent’ girl and he is falling for an ‘indecent’ girl. I think that’s where he was brilliant in conveying this dichotomy. If you look at how he acts when he’s opposite Radhika, he’s different; in front of Munna Rajas and the butcher, he’s different!

    At least that’s what I gathered!

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is sexual tension in each of scenes between Nawaz and Apte…In one of the initial scenes he says, he cannot marry/be with someone like Apte…But slowly realizes she is victim of circumstances…

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      • Agreed! And I am a sucker for this simmering tension shown in movies! It’s not easy to capture these. On paper, they are words; on screen, you need GREAT actors to convey that to us. I loved that subdued love affair happening right beneath our nose..

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    • I guess that makes sense AnJo re Nawaz being a bit unsure on the beginning .
      I liked Apte a lot here and Ila Arun as well .

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  7. Nice review. Quite liked it too. For a slow-burn its well made as i never felt inclined to press the fast forward button.

    Liked both Nawaz and Radhika here. V moody and atmospheric film.

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  8. Good movie. Thanks for recommending it. I liked Nawaz and Radhika. All the supporting characters did well

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  9. Thanks An Jo for recommending this.
    Will watch it.

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  10. Truly well made murder mystery after long time combining all local politics and patriarchy rules woven very effectively. Loved the setting and mood of the movie. So many characters and yet everyone has something to offer. Good move by Netflix to grab this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks Sanjana and Tony.

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  12. And again, Nawaz owns the scene when he’s playing a cop! You cannot have an actor like Nawaz, facing-off a superstar, telling him, NAAK MEIN NAKEL DAAL KE KHEENCH KE LE JAOONGA! So this scene wasn’t present in the movie, but yes, in the trailer!

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