While buying the ticket for Samrat & Co, a request for a corner seat yielded the answer, “Madam kahin bhi beth jaaiye, pura hall khali hai.” There is a lesson for all of us moviegoers in there – always listen to the guy at the ticket window.
I didn’t and I ended up wasting up two hours of my life which I will never get back. Samrat & Co is a poor man’s version of Sherlock, and Robert Downey Jr’s eponymous films. There are also nods to Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton and other brilliant authors. There’s nothing brilliant about this Rajshri Production, what you have is Rajeev Khandelwal as detective Samrat Tilakdhari, or STD (I kid you not) as he is lovingly called by his trusted sidekick ‘What son’ (their joke, not mine).
Just so that you don’t miss the similarities, he also wears a trenchcoat and delivers deductions about people he has just met in true Benedict Cumberbatch fashion. Only in Khandelwal’s case, they are said so fast that you can’t catch half of them (you mostly do not care also).
The brilliant Khandelwal of Shaitan and Aamir is missing in action and the actor here will make you cringe with his performance. Probably he knew what he had signed in for and just went with the spirit of things! And he is not the only actor sleepwalking, veteran actor Girish Karnad looks like he had something really bad for lunch and is now suffering from acidity.
Or maybe it had to do with the utterly stupid dialogues they were made to spout. Here are a few gems: ‘heart is fragile, handle it with care’, ‘come and get ready for dilchasp rehasya’, ‘here’s a mistress in distress (mistress, really?)’, ‘sach woh roshni hai jo subah hone se pehle hi ho jaati hai’. These are a very few examples, the film is up to its ears in them.
Now let’s take a stab at the story: STD is a star detective who has boxing bouts when he is not solving cases which make it to the front page. He is waiting for an interesting case when in walks a pretty lady (Madalsa Sharma, utterly underwhelming) whose father’s garden is dying because of a maali’s shraap. That is making her dad scared and unwell. He and Watson (Gopal Dutt as Chakradher who is a Sansani-type of anchor in his free time) head off to Shimla and people start dying. The first one to go is the girl’s dad (Karnad).
The screenplay leaves a lot to be desired and the pace is excruciatingly slow. The look reminds you of 70s films where the stars danced in front of the camera and scenery made up the backdrop. The music is utterly forgettable and the placement of songs is forced. The film, directed by Kaushik Ghatak, looks like amateur dramatics where the operative word is amateur.
You start sensing something is very wrong when Ganesh Acharya fills in for the item number slot. By the time you meet a baba who seems to spend a lot of time in Belgium (he likes chocolates? he wants to flee from this hilarious whodunnit?) you are focusing on your mobile and when they are playing Planchette to solve the murders, you wish you had walked out when you still had chance.
You may laugh at the unintentional gaffes during the film but after the climax, you are afraid. STD says he’ll be back with a sequel. When that happens, I will be watching the re-runs of Sherlock. I advice you to do the same.