Dial 100 seems less of a thriller and more of an answer to the oft-asked question, ‘What’s it about?’ The movie unfolding before us has the brevity of a synopsis rather than the structure of a script as though roughly describing the outline but leaving out all the juicy details.
It’s a shame because Writer-Director Rensil D’Silva’s idea starts off grippingly but can neither sustain the jittery momentum nor deliver on the promise of its atmospheric mood leaving its perfectly able cast undermined.
In an earlier telephonic conversation with his anxious wife (Sakshi Tanwar), we get a sense of looming trouble brought about their problem teenage son (a terribly tame Svar Kamble) and his wayward ways. As the identity of the caller is gradually revealed, it becomes clear the real threat is faced by the cop and his family for reasons that are, unfortunately, too easy to guess.
Between a policeman’s confused efforts to rescue them from harm’s way and a vindictive woman’s mysterious motives, Dial 100‘s pace plummets to focus on technical glitches at the control room causing the delay in figuring the caller’s whereabouts.
D’Silva means to make a pertinent point about privilege, parenting, middle-class woes, apathy and its dispensable existence as opposed to the preferential treatment meted on the influential based on social hierarchy. But its cursory nature does not make any emotional impact.
As a thriller too, Dial 100 is much too passive to convey the urgency or hazard of the instability at loose. Characters offer uncharacteristically controlled response to bizarre situations through the course of its stilted setting and under two hours running time. It’s also an amazingly dry looking film considering the extent of damage the supposed bad weather causes.
With not much going on in terms of intensity or intrigue even the actors struggle to rise above the matter. Neena Gupta starts off terrifyingly bleak but the movie cannot match her neurotic tone. It doesn’t help that she goes entirely missing for a good chunk and pops up again undecided between vendetta and vulnerability.
A solid actor for all seasons, Manoj Bajpayee lends his usual gravitas but eventually seems lost around an insufficiently written character. Ever so compelling, Sakshi Tanwar is the only one who seems to have a good grasp on the guilt and regret of her role.
Dismal and inert, Dial 100 never delivers the storm it promises inside or out.
Dial 100 streams on ZEE5 Premium.