There are two types of thrillers. First, in which a crime occurs at the start of the film and the rest of the story deals with unraveling it. Second, in which you know the people behind the crime from the start and then the story progresses. Needless to say, the second is the hardest to pull off. ‘Monica, O My Darling’ belongs to this category.
Japan is not only known for its anime but also for its mysteries. Recently, “Adamas” on Disney Hotstar had viewers hooked for weeks together. Japanese author Keigo Higashino is a name to be reckoned with in the world of mystery novels. His most famous “The Devotion of Suspect X” is already in preparation in Bollywood. Currently, we have his other novel, ‘Burutasu No Shinzou’ as ‘Monica, O My Darling’ on Netflix.
Serious and full of twists and turns, the film was directed by Vasan Bala. Teaming up with writer Yogesh Chandekar, he successfully adapts the story to take place in Pune. The black genre is not explored much in Bollywood but the director-screenwriter duo have done a fabulous job of it.
Monica Machado played by Huma Qureshi is a secretary at a robotics company and thinks all men are her robots. Therefore, she blackmails at least three at the start of the film. Jayant Arkhedkar (Rajkumar Rao), Nishikant Adhikari (Sikandar Kher) and Arvind Manivannan (Bagavathi Permual). Therefore, the trio decides to eliminate him and sign a “murderers’ agreement”. As a result, the plot to kill her is carried out. But as fate would have it, things start to go wrong from that point on and viewers are treated to a thriller that is both hilarious and compelling.
There is no shortage of surprises and shocks here, although somewhere halfway through the story loosens up a bit to pick up the pace towards the end.
Huma Qureshi was brilliant as a shy, uneducated housewife who is suddenly thrust into Bihar’s top job in ‘Maharani’. Here, she embodies a completely different character. She is charming, confident and seductive. Huma has done a wonderful job of making audiences believe that Monica is all of that and more. She stands out in a film teeming with remarkable performances. Be it Rajkumar Rao or Bagavathi Permual, all the actors do their characters full justice. Similarly, Radhika Apte is seen in a comedic role for the first time. She also mouths some of the best dialogue in this dark comedy as corrupt police inspector Naidu. However, she doesn’t get much screen space.
What works in favor of “Monica, O My Darling” is its characterization. Not a single character in this film is positive or one-dimensional. All have their own past, greed and secrets. Therefore, they are ready to do anything to realize their intentions. In the process, they become much more believable for viewers. Not that one can identify with such characters, but they are certainly quite captivating.
As seen now, through the title ‘Monica, O My Darling’, the creators paid homage to retro Bollywood and its wonderful music. In fact, the film pays homage to many other personalities, Hollywood; and in order to give an authentic Marathi flavor to the character of Jayant, to G. D Madgulkar as well. In one of the scenes, Jayant recites the famous Marathi poet’s poem ‘Fakt Ladh Mhana’.
Achint Thakkar, who previously provided music for ‘Scam 1992’ and ‘Rocket Boys’, hits all the right notes. It skillfully mixes retro and contemporary to give viewers a complete experience.
“Monica, O My Darling” has a very Johnny Gaddar side to it. No wonder he thanks Sriram Raghavan from the start. This edge-of-the-seat thriller is playing on Netflix.