The prototype follows a brooding man with a fringe, stubble, libido and secret, a vacuous hot woman who speaks in dubbed whispers, a serviceable Pritam/esque soundtrack, a mysterious looking cop aimed to provide unintentional comic relief, a sturdy bed as the venue of predominant action and a script that is seldom, correction, never original.
Despite this unfailing predictability, the Murder franchise, like Raaz and Jannat, has proved increasingly providential for the Bhatts – Mahesh, Mukesh and Emraan Hashmi. While the first two were unacknowledged rip-offs of Hollywood’s Unfaithful and South Korea’s The Chaser, Murder 3 is gracious enough to buy the rights of Columbian thriller, La Cara Oculta.
With the Bhatts’ in-house face of lust Hashmi going the credible route through films like The Dirty Picture and Shanghai, Murder 3 banks on Randeep Hooda’s blank expressions, unblinking stares, muffled dialogue delivery and a strange pixie haircut to pull through.
Giving him company in a grand mansion, quite lavish even for a celebrity photographer (he has switched from capturing bare wildlife to barely-clad models) is Sara Loren playing an opportunistic waitress with the heart (and brains) of a bird.
There’s also Aditi Rao Hydari representing the former girlfriend gone AWOL but mostly trying to prove her potential at playing sexy. Till her entry, the screenplay moves at the pace of a three-toed sloth but gains a little momentum as her presence rings in the interval with the feeble hope of jeopardy.
Although it’s almost a scene- by-scene replica of the original (save for the lack of explicit nudity and a ferocious Alsatian swapped for a bunch of songs that read out like a bunch of gooey Valentine cards), first-time director Vishesh Bhatt is unable to recreate the organic fear or despair of its slick source.
For better or worse, he doesn’t try to improvise on the script either. We all know how that worked out in Abbas-Mustan’s Players, again an official remake, of The Italian Job.
There’s no effort from the Bhatt scion to develop his one-note characters plagued by knotty emotions like insecurity and greed into someone exciting, someone greyer. And his actors are much too ordinary to do it on his behalf.
I’ve already expressed my discontentment regarding Hooda’s accidental, non-pasty tribute to Edward Cullen. The ladies fare marginally better. While Loren is watchable solely on the strength of her good looks, a glowing Rao Hydari brings in some vulnerability and heart to distract us from the glaring lack of chemistry — physical or psychological — between the leading man and both the girls.
In the middle of everything, there’s Rajesh Shringarpure tickling the funny bone with his hilarious intensity bolstered by a pair of squinting eyes and uptight body language mouthing inanities like, ‘Jo dikhayi nahi de raha hai dikhayi de raha hai.’
Subtlety is rarely favoured in our filmmaking where the emphasis is always on noise that lays out cues for fear and false alarms in place of sparking off anxiety through lingering pauses or prudently-timed bursts of sound and thunder. Even so, the curious twist in Andrés Baiz’s creepy drama about the repercussions of guilt and doubt, save Murder 3 from being a complete misfire.
Those who’re clueless about the Columbian movie might get a kick out of the big reveal. Those looking for more than (badly-acted) thrills, Murder isn’t likely to be your choice of franchise anyway.
This review was first published on rediff.com.