Film: The Stoneman Murders
Director: Manish Gupta
Cast: Kay Kay Mennon, Arbaaz Khan, Rukhsaar
A great story, told not so well is what the film is. It packs in the thrills but just when you reach the zenith you are met with blandness. What is greatly depressing about this film is that like many other thriller films this too takes the path and support of rites and rituals to justify and reach its conclusion.
Set in the early eighties the film solves the case of a serial murderer who kills his victims by smashing their head with a stone. Following the death of a local gangster in police custody, officer Sanjay (Kay Kay Mennon) is suspended indefinitely. But his reputation for being an earnest officer precedes him and regardless of him being suspended is secretly allowed to carry out the investigation with reference to the stone man murders.
Meanwhile ruling the roost in the police force is Inspector Kedar (Arbaaz Khan) who is also investigating the murders and is clueless of Sanjay’s investigation. The two cross paths in the most unlikely of events and after series of misleading facts and assumption the killer is finally found. Who and how is what is meant to make this film interesting, sadly though neither of it is really interesting.
What is evident after watching this film is the fact that the director knows how best to work with the resources that are made available. The film packs in the thrills and the mood is certainly there. However what is saddening is the fact that the film does not seem cogent and instead seems like this logical placing of different scenes to try and make this film work.
Through the first half of the film you see a run up to the stone man, the chaos in Sanjay’s life and the series of murders that happen. While this half works well the second half is a different story, it tries to rationalize and zero in on the killer.
Soon after a series of murders and going over facts, monotony in the film sets in. It’s the same thing over and over with very little being discovered each time. The rather ordinary dialogues do nothing for the film either. The gusto the film needs in the second half is missing and the film relies on standard practices other thrillers use, like using silent moments in the film to spring surprises or bring on thrill and the use of cataclysmic music to set the mood. While in some parts it works wonders in most others by virtue of having seen it before, falls flat and you know what to expect.
Towards the end, the film turns predictable and you know what’s next to come. The credit goes to Gupta for the build up in the film that is outstanding though it’s a different thing that it’s spoilt by a bland conclusion.
Watch the manner in which the film builds up to discover Mennon’s private workplace is broken into and painted in red, a great scene that is marred by the entry of inspector Kedar and his bunch throwing clichéd dialogues, eventually spoiling the moment. Additional characters in the film with mediocre performances mar the film as well.
In entirety the film just does not seem convincing enough, the facts, the series of deaths, reaching the conclusion, none of it. Having said this, there are some great moments the film offers and that cannot be taken away from it, like the scene where Mennon is after the killer and hops on to a train, or the scene where Mennon is sitting in his car with the killer secretly watching him from behind. That leads us to another aspect, the film is so pro Mennon that even though he is an outstanding actor and puts up a brilliant performance, it’s too much to carry for him.
Technically the film is good, especially the manner in which the scenes are lit do a great deal to set the mood. The use of the camera as a person (The stone man) in certain instances is well done and commendable. Snappier use of the scissors and some slickness to the film could have perhaps done wonders for the film.
Eventually the film offers what can easily be called Mennon’s best performance till date. He is outstanding in the film. While Rukhsaar as his wife Manali is neither convincing nor puts up a great show. One still can’t figure how Khan contributes to the film except that he comes in at key moments; His performance is well let’s just say not the best. The film solely is Mennon’s and that is evident.
The Stoneman Murders is undoubtedly a watchable film, if you don’t walk in expecting too much you’ll surely walk out content. Don’t go in looking to know about the cover up, because that by far is the blandest.