Set in Lakhot, a Rajasthani village which exists in extremes-either fatally hot or lethally cold, and is further personified as “…jahan duniya se alag apni ek alag duniya hai...ghaadi ki sui mein atka hua Lakhot...house wife sa boring,haathi sa sust,bin naade ke pyjaame se dheela dhaala Lakhot”.
“..paranthu registhaan ki ek sach hai…jo dikhtha hai wo hotha nahin..jo hota hai wo dikhtha nahi....yahaan kidon ko bhi nahi pata ki jis reth par wo bistar banaye hai…pata nahin kaun saap,bichchu chupa baita hai uske neeche…”
And so is the life of Satyaveer Randhawa very similar to Lakhot ,one moment it is dreary and unfruitful but the next moment he’s caught in mystery,murder and adventure. And like the nature of the desert, nothing is what it seems.
The movie introduces us to Randhawa,a junior PWD engineer at an abandoned canal construction site with some brilliantly pictorial dialogues, ambiguous surroundings and a surreal painting like setting in the desert.
“tumhara tho dimag bhi pending hai,poora dept commission le raha hai-aur tumhi ek akele buddhu jo pakde gaye..”
This tells us about Randhawa who is in suspension awaiting the enquiry report for taking small commissions; and about his beautiful but nagging wife Nimi.Randhawa always wanted to be a famous writer and almost got there with his debut detective novel “Manorama”. But the novel corked his soaring dreams as only 200 copies were sold. The first and biggest failure in his life.
“har kisi ki zindagi mein ek aisa waqt bhi aata hai jab sale aaine ko sach bolne ki bimaari lag jaati hai”
But this day, in which he laments his lost glory the most, ends with the buyer of one of the 200 copies knocking on the door late into the night.
“afsos..!par raghu tho sirf ek character hai na…kirdaar…kehthe hain kirdaar kiraedaar nahi ban saktha,par kalaakar tho kiraedaar ban saktha hai..”
A fan of detective Raghu in Randhawa’s novel, and in need of one such man to spy on her irrigation minister husband P.P.Rathore…she turns to Satyaveer Randhawa for the lack of any trustworthy private detectives in Lakhot. She requests him to find out whether her husband is seeing another woman and to click pictures for evidence, in return for a fat paycheck. Owing to his need for and a spark in life, Randhawa agrees. But the day after he hands over the film roll to the woman, he accidentally discovers that she is not the minister’s wife.
Before his shock subsides she stops his bike one dark night to say that her name is actually Manorama and her life is in danger. She runs away after throwing him a cryptic line. What happens later? Like Brij Mohan,his typical-thanedaar brother-in-law, recounts a story of a kid called Bholu…
“jaisa naam waisa kaam....bada bhola bachcha tha Bholu.....choti choti cheejon se kush ho jaata-par saale mein ek hi bimari thi-pichwade mein jigyasa ki khurach thi usse”
Yes, the itch of curiosity got better of Satyaveer Randhawa and he fell headlong into this thriller of a situation only to find more complicated characters and more mysterious and dangerous situations! All this in spite of Brij mohan’s warnings…”zara si saavdhaani,zindagi bhar aasaani”,which he got from a condom ad and “kutte ki haddi aur mantri ki chaddi mein haath nahi dala karte jijje.Ek mein 14 injection lagte hain aur doosre mein tho bas…lag jaati hain,pata bhi nahi chaltha “
Manorama six feet under is of the noir genre and can be termed as one of those
From the dusty stretch of vast desert and evil looking scrubs in the beginning of the movie to the small flower wetting itself in the unexpected rain, the movie felt like those dark forgotten whodunits with everything clichéd(like brown toothed cackling goons to corrupt politicians) made into a very gripping screenplay.
Vinay pathak-“Rajasthan plays a character in the movie”
I completely agree with him and believe that Rajasthan and the brilliant dialogues by Abhinav Kashyap and Manoj Tapadia play main protagonists followed by the soundtrack in the supporting role.’Dhoka' sung by Richa Sharma gives a sense of mystery and doom leading on to ‘dhundla jo sama’ by Kailash Kher in the end of the movie.
Abhay Deol,Gul Panag and Vinay Pathak did full justice to Satyaveer randhawa,Nimi and Brij mohan respectively. Raima Sen did not go unnoticed in her stint as Manorama’s room-mate Sheetal. Kulbhushan Karbanda fits perfectly into the role of the corrupt politician P.P.Rathore and last but not the least Sarika gives her enigmatic best to ‘Manorama’.
So hats off to Navdeep Singh the director whose belief in his movie is extremely evident and feels like he fulfilled a childhood fantasy.
Ps: It would be great if next time this was done with an original story :D