Neeyat movie review: Vidya Balan's whodunnit is a bland mystery | Bollywood - Hindustan Times
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Neeyat movie review: Vidya Balan's whodunnit is a bland blend of mediocre performances and mystery

Jul 07, 2023 07:45 PM IST

Neeyat movie review: Vidya Balan's mystery is all over the place and far from her best works.

A slow burn that leaves you fuming in the end, Vidya Balan-starrer Neeyat is a boring and bumpy ride. Barely 10 minutes into the film, and I had already forgotten the count of characters that were introduced one after the other, with their most peculiar characteristics being narrated in the background. A murder mystery with four killed — one dog and three men — the thriller keeps you hooked in parts. I don't know if I can pin any one particular thing that left me impressed in Neeyat. Maybe the climax was a bit of a redemption for the frail and overcomplicated plot with never-ending subplots plaguing the main story. Not only Anu Menon's direction falters big time, the film overall lacks soul, appears lethargic and goes all over the place when it comes to screenplay.

Neeyat movie review: Vidya Balan's first theatrical release in last four years.
Neeyat movie review: Vidya Balan's first theatrical release in last four years.

Also read: Neeyat trailer: Vidya Balan's murder mystery has eerie resemblance to Knives Out

Neeyat's synopsis

The film opens with an exiled Indian billionaire Ashish Kapoor aka AK (Ram Kapoor) and his executive assistant Kay Patel (Amrita Puri), who never leaves his side, as they arrive at a spectacular gothic Scottish castle overlooking the sea. On a stormy, full moon night, AK has invited his close circle to celebrate his birthday. Among his friends and family, we see Zara (Niki Aneja Walia) as a tarot card reader and his healer, his best friend Sanjay Suri (Neeraj Kabi) with wife Noor Suri (Dipannita Sharma) and their son, who idolises Christopher Nolan and wants to win an Oscar one day. Then enters AK's sultry girlfriend Lisa (Shahana Goswami), his brother-in-law Jimmy (Rahul Bose), an alcoholic, unemployed rich brat, AK's stepson Ryan (Shashank Arora), a drug junkie, with his mystery girlfriend Gigi (Prajakta Koli), who honestly seemed better than these seasoned lot of actors.

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The manager of the castle, Tanveer (Danesh Razvi), has an extremely important role to play in the story. On the dinner table, this happy group meets CBI officer Mira Rao (Vidya Balan) who is here to arrest AK and take him back to India for a court trial for frauds worth 20,000 crore. But things take a weird turn when AK falls from a cliff and dies, and then begins the investigation with everyone being a suspect.

What works in favour of Neeyat

At 132 minutes, Neeyat may not be outright boring for it does manage to keep you invested and engaged to find out who actually is behind the murder, but it takes forever to unearth that truth. And even if the big reveal is the best part about the film that you didn't see coming, it's too little, too late. The extremely slow first half is nothing but a bland blend of characters trying to make some sense with their performances — some good, some mediocre. The second half takes some leap and we are told the back stories of each character being investigated in the murder, as each one of them seem to have a clear motive.

What doesn't work in Neeyat

The story that director Anu Menon has co-written with Girvani Dhyani, Advaita Kala and Priya Venkataraman is a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. There is too much happening at the same time that you don't know which character to look at or whose expression to observe. While the screenplay and execution have nothing noteworthy, a special mention to cinematographer Andreas Neo for beautifully capturing the setting of the plot and the scenic aerial views of the castle. There are quite a few portions shot in the dark, but you never struggle to figure what's happening.

Performances are neither understated nor over-the-top, and just manage to keep the film afloat. Vidya as the odd-but-clever CBI officer looks absolutely lost in her own world yet convincing in whatever she is trying to portray. Having seen her deliver some of the finest performances in projects way deeper and more intelligent than this, Neeyat is far from her best works. As Mira Rao, her character seems half-baked with many loose-ends that never get answered.

Ram has the swag and style of a rich business honcho, Neeraj adds gravitas with his performance while Dipannita and Shahana bring some glam, they never get enough scope to shine. The most promising ones of the lot — Shashank, Prajakta, Amrita and Danesh — unfortunately have very little to do on screen, but still leave an impact. Niki and Rahul are good at what they do, and their starkly different characters seems to be written with some thought.

Final verdict

In a nutshell, Neeyat is far from perfect. It needed way better writing, a focused screenplay, and more nuanced performances. There's a cameo at the end, which might put a smile on your face, though it's not sufficient to save the sinking ship. Watch Neeyat in theatres for its sheer spectacular views and if you are a Vidya Balan fan, you may be left disappointed.

Film: Neeyat

Cast: Vidya Balan, Ram Kapoor, Niki Walia, Rahul Bose, Neeraj Kabi

Director: Anu Menon

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