Murder 3: Poor direction, faulty casting

MUMBAI: Murder 3 is a usual Bhatt brand of film. Expect romance, passion, adultery, betrayal, crime and, often, good music. For want of titles as well as to avoid labouring to find one, the film is titled Murder 3 though, as one eventually discovers, is a misnomer. The film is a legit version of the Colombian film, La Cara Oculta (English title: The Hidden Face)

Producer: Mukesh Bhatt.

Director: Vishesh Bhatt.

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren, Rajesh Shringarpure, Shekhar Shukla, Bugs Bhargava.

Randeep Hooda is a renowned wildlife photographer in South Africa. One fine day, a top agency in India invites him to shoot fashion photographs! What caused this desperate situation in the Indian fashion photography scene is left to the viewer?s imagination. Hooda arrives with his girlfriend, Aditi Rao Hydari, in tow. She can?t think of a life without him and chucks her career in South Africa.

Hooda loves to be close to nature. He acquires a palatial villa away from the crowds, settles down with Hydari and gets on with his work. He loves Hydari immensely but is not averse to other affairs on the side. Hydari, with her woman?s instincts, sniffs his proximity to a hair stylist but Hooda tackles her nagging by showing more affection every time. That is when Hydari learns of a hidden vault, a safe room in the villa from the time of its previous owner. It was built by the owner during the freedom struggle to escape mobs in case of trouble. Considering it was made in the 1940s, the vault is a marvel of technology. It has one way glasses, speakers with the whole villa bugged and is safe enough to survive for a long period without the outside world finding out.

Desperate to check Hooda?s love for her, Hydari decides to hide in the vault. She shoots her departing message on a camera that she is leaving for good and leaves a note for Hooda. She watches as Hooda walks into the villa with her favourite white roses, notices the note and is devastated to watch her message. Hydari is convinced Hooda loves her truly after watching his plight and now wants to come out of the vault and surprise him. Sadly for her, in the hurry to hide, she has dropped the key outside.

Hooda has taken to drinking and drowning his sorrows in alcohol. On one such binge at a bar, totally knocked out of senses, he is noticed by a staffer, Sara Loren. She develops sympathy for him which turns into love and soon she replaces Hydari in Hooda?s bed, oblivious to the fact that they are being watched from behind the glass. However, Loren?s stay at the villa is not pleasant. There is an eerie feeling all around, sudden power outages and suspicious sounds from plumbing.

Meanwhile, the police, Shekhar Shukla and Rajesh Shringarpure, are searching for the missing Hydari with their prime suspect being Hooda. Shringarpure has a rather personal interest in the case and for doubting Hooda since Loren has been his love since college, albeit one sided. There are no other characters in the story and hence no scope for red herrings.

It should have been an easy enough task to adapt a foreign film but the problem starts with casting of Hooda as the lead man. Even though he wears an aura of mystery, in most parts he has to romance three girls which needed a romantic image. Dressing him up with a wig for straight hair does not help take away his hard face. The script makes the second half repeat most scenes of the first half. Vishesh Bhatt?s direction needs much honing yet: an investigating officer, Shringarpure, is armed like a sharpshooter; a picnic spread looks like a small utility store, and so on. Music looks like a continuation of past scores and lacks appeal. Of the two, Hydari has the better part and does well while Loren is passable.

Murder 3 is a no go at the box office.

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