SAMRAT & CO.
Rajshri Productions (P.) Ltd.’s Samrat & Co. (UA) is a suspense-adventure film. Strange things happen in the mansion of Mahendra Pratap Singh (Girish Karnad) and so his daughter, Dimpy (Madalsa Sharma), seeks the services of detective Samrat (Rajeev Khandelwal). Living in the mansion with Mahendra Pratap Singh are his two sons, Sanjay Singh (Priyanshu Chatterji) and Vijay Singh (Indraneil Sengupta), Sanjay’s wife, Sunita (Sujata Sanghamitra), Vijay’s wife, Revati (Barkha Bisht Sengupta), and Singh’s two daughters, Dimpy and Divya (Shreya Narayan). Samrat gets on the job immediately and, accompanied by his assistant, Chakradhar Pandey (Gopal Datt), he reaches the mansion.
Even as Samrat is getting into the thick of things, Mahendra Pratap Singh is murdered. His younger son, Vijay, is arrested as the prime suspect but it soon emerges that he is not the murderer. Mahendra Pratap Singh’s car had, years back, wiped out an entire family in a road accident with only one person remaining alive. Has the lone survivor murdered Singh to avenge the death of his family members? Or is the murder the job of an insider? Or is it that the murder was committed by someone else? As Samrat tries to solve the mystery, more deaths occur. In fact, every time Samrat feels, he is close to solving the murder case, there’s a new death of a person related in some way to the family of Mahendra Pratap SIngh.
To solve the murder mystery, Samrat has to decode coded messages, chase people and do a whole lot of things he had never dreamt of. But finally, he does help the police nab the murderer. Who is it?
Kaushik Ghatak and Manish Shrivastav have penned a story and screenplay which start on an interesting note but soon lose steam. Too much happens too fast as a result of which the happenings fail to create the desired impact. Probably, the weakest point of the screenplay is that the audience barely gets acquainted with Mahendra Pratap Singh and he gets killed. And since the viewers are not very connected with the character of the victim, they don’t really care to know who murdered him and why. That is to say, the entire drama of solving the murder case fails to involve the audience. Resultantly, Samrat keeps moving from one clue to another but the audience is not really with him as the murder mystery has not engaged its attention in the first place. Also, the coded messages, the needle of suspicion pointing to various people at different points of time – they are so predictable that the viewers don’t get sucked into the story at any point of time. The thrill of a suspense drama, the excitement of a murder mystery, and the feeling of being involved in solving a murder case elude the viewers who, therefore, watch the proceedings unfold on the screen as passive onlookers rather than active observers and participants. Why, even the guessing game fails to engage the audience. That is why, the revelation of the suspense at the end does not gladden the viewer’s heart. If the screenplay is not engaging enough, Sanjay Masoom’s dialogues also fail to have the effect of entertaining the audience. The dialogues do impress at places but not consistently so.
Rajeev Khandelwal does well but there’s nothing in his character (of Samrat) to make it endearing, which was very essential. Madalsa Sharma makes a tame debut as the heroine. She would be more suited to character roles. Girish Karnad acts ably. Priyanshu Chatterji and Indraneil Sengupta do ordinary jobs. Rajneish Duggal is alright in the role of Deepak. He impresses in the action scene. Gopal Datt’s comedy, as Samrat’s aide, falls flat on its face. Smita Jayakar is earnest as Narayani. Navin Prabhakar does fairly well as Hari. Shreya Narayan (as Divya), Sujata Sanghamitra (as Sunita), Barkha Bisht Sengupta (as Revati) and Deepak Shroff (as Narayani’s husband) lend very ordinary support. Bhaumik Sampat is alright as police inspector Khalid. Ravi Jhankal leaves a mark as house help Puran Kaka. Pradeep Velankar makes his presence felt as DGP Arjun Rai. Gufi Paintal (as the lawyer), Ram Gopal Bajaj (as Satyadev Baba), Puja Gupta (as house help Shanti) and Ganesh Acharya (in a song-dance) are adequate.
Kaushik Ghatak’s direction is ordinary. The thrills and chills of a suspense drama are missing in his narration. Music is ordinary. The ‘Tequila’ song (composed by Ankit Tiwari) is alright but the other songs (composed by Ankit Tiwari and Mithoon) are not very inspiring. Lyrics (by Sanjay Masoom, Sandeep Nath and Mithoon) are ordinary. Choreography of the ‘Tequila’ song (by Rahul Thombre) is quite good. Sandeep Shirodkar’s background music passes muster. Sanjay Malwankar’s camerawork is routine. Jayant Deshmukh’s sets are ordinary. Action scenes (by Kaushal-Moses) are okay. Nipun Gupta’s editing is quite nice.
On the whole, Samrat & Co. lacks the thrill needed in a suspense drama and will, therefore, not be able to entertain the audience. Given its poor opening, it will go down in Bollywood history as a non-starter.