HIT: The First Case Review: Twisted and thoroughly engaging
Rajkummar Rao takes center-stage in a gripping whodunit murder mystery
HIT: The First Case (Hindi)
Director: Dr. Sailesh Kolanu
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Sanya Malhotra, Dalip Tahil, Shilpa Shukla and others
Released in theatres
After a long time, I got to watch a thoroughly engaging contemporary whodunit murder mystery. Dr. Sailesh Kolanu’s HIT: The First Case uses all possible elements of the whodunit movie formula. It keeps you guessing. Just when your suspicion seems to get stronger, it throws a new twist at you. The first half of the movie is immensely gripping and keeps challenging your intellect. The film falters occasionally in the second half and a little underwhelming climax somewhat takes the thrill away. But overall, the film makes for an engaging and rewarding experience.
What’s good? At a little more than 2 hours, the screenplay is tight. The dialogue is minimal and organic. The production design and cinematography create an immersive world. The story is set in Rajasthan. Vikram (Rajkummar Rao) is a cop at the Homicide Intervention Team (HIT) suffering from post-traumatic stress that puts him at the risk of a stroke. But his job is what keeps him sane. That’s his identity. A traumatic incident with fire triggers his anxiety and panic whenever he comes across the fire, big or small.
After a heated argument with his girlfriend Neha (Sanya Malhotra) over taking a break from the job to look after his health, he disappears to his home in the snowy mountains for a couple of months. He gets a call of duty to investigate a case of a missing girl named Priti. Upon reaching Rajasthan, he discovers that Neha has also gone missing.
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Thus, begins a series of twists and turns to find both girls as Vikram struggles with his inner demons and counterparts at work. Vikram is a prolific cop and has a strong sense of smell and memory. Rao plays Vikram with utmost sincerity. It’s such a relief to see a cop who is not beefed up and beating 10 goons at the same time. Rao is quite an average lean guy. His heroism comes from his intellect. And even when he fights with a suspected criminal in a superbly choreographed scene in rain and mud, his fight looks real and not a circus of stunts.
The thing about Rao is that he is so good at internalizing a character that he doesn’t look like he is trying hard to do that. There’s also an air of awkwardness around him. Maybe that’s why he looks so real in any character he plays. Sanya Malhotra has a brief role and doesn’t have much to showcase her acting talent. Shilpa Shukla and Milind Gunaji make cameo appearances. Gunaji’s track and his personality are brilliantly used to mess with your brains. Films such as this one are a great tool to see how judgmental people can be based on someone’s appearance. No matter how woke they might call themselves.
Also read: Rajkummar Rao was the only person on my wishlist to cast for Vikram in HIT: The First Case, says the director, Sailesh Kolanu
The film is explained enough for everyone to understand it. This might be an attempt to make it reachable to a larger audience. And films like these should reach out more. There’s an extra moral gyaan on sexuality because there’s an angle of homosexuality involved. The makers are making sure the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t get offended. Boy, does anyone need a reason to get offended these days?
The film falters in some portions of the second half but overall, it kept me engaged. My level of patience to binge-watch crime/thriller/mystery web series for 8-10 hours has significantly gone down. A film like HIT: The First Case is an option that I would choose happily, any day. Worth it.