Dir. Mohit Suri. India. 2011.

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Anuraag Basu’s  ‘Murder’ sizzled at the box-office mainly because of the hot passionate chemistry between it’s lead stars , then little known, Mallika Sherawat and  Emraan Hashmi. Mallika went on to greater heights managing  to straddle an international career in Hollywood alongside her desi one while Emraan bagged all the leading roles in the Bhatt’s home productions. ‘Murder’ continues to evoke fond memories because it was an erotic novelty in a sex-starved mainstream. The Bhatts’ current attempt ‘Murder 2’ to cash-in on the brand appears to be largely opportunistic. None of the characters in the so-termed sequel match those of the original, neither does the story take you forward from that of the original. The only linkage between the two films is Emraan Hashmi. In this attempted follow-up he plays Arjun Bhagwat a defanged, ex-cop, Goa Police, who now finds greater thrills running around with the criminally minded.  An orphan, he believes god has forsaken him and therefore prefers to play god to the many disadvantaged he comes accross.  He is called in for some investigation work by a pimp who finds himself short of  4 top-earning call girls who seem to have disappeared mysteriously. It appears to be a case of human-trafficking but appearances are deceptive. Arjun's hot and cold relationship with Priya (Jaqueline Fernandez), a model, keeps braking into the thriller narrative in the hope of providing enough eroticism to garner a larger audience. But the attempt appears to be forced. Priya’s skimpy clothes and waxen  looks lend itself more to the dead than to the alive. Arjun and Priya’s stuttering romance keeps on stuttering till the misdirected endplay which leads to a confrontation and eventual vanquishing of the evil (Prashant Narayanan), a psychopathic serial killer who plagued the immoral.

Making films on people living on the edge has  now become a sort of formula for the Bhatt’s. It’s a money earning gambit as in today’s world more and more people find themselves living on the edge. It therefore becomes easier for the audience of today to identify with such morally questionable heroes. Throw in some  titillation, skimpily clad women, an item dance, kissing scenes alongside violence and gore and  the formula gets super-charged. The hit-making elements are all there but unfortunately they are not presented with any kind of finesse. The almost brutish pursuit of cheap thrills is evident in the manner in which the narrative spirals into a violent bloodbath without definitively or effectively establishing the characters or their
motivations. Even the character graph appears manipulated to suit the voyeuristic  endplay. Mohit Suri appears far more interested in sexing-up the content rather than in making it more plausible. Even the performances lack bite. Emraan Hashmi postures around while Jaqueline’s appeal is limited to her mannequin looks  Between them there is little passion to feast on.  Prashant Narayanan makes his performance count.  He rises far above the script to carve a menace that is chilling and quite scary. Even so, the overall experience remains limiting and the appeal even more so!

Rating:  * *

Johnson Thomas

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