Vasan Bala's neo-noir 'Monica, O My Darling' is the most promising movie Bollywood has offered in a long time.
When ACP Naidu (Radhika Apte) first says, "Story ko dheela chhodne ka, feel ke saath," and later says, "Iss baar dheela nahi chhodne ka ha. Ekdum tight pakad ke rakhne ka," it's as if she's describing the screenplay. The film knows exactly where to go easy and where to tighten it up, putting the audience on a rollercoaster. 'Monica, O My Darling' revolves around Jayant Arkhedkar (Rajkummar Rao), a technology wizard, who has been promoted and added to the board of directors of the Unicorn group, by CEO and his girlfriend Nikki's (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor) father, Satyanarayan Adhikari (Vijay Kenkare). Company's secretary Monica Machado (Huma Qureshi) informs Jayant that she is pregnant with his child. She also says the same to Satyanarayan's son, Nishikant (Sikandar Kher), and CFO Arvind Manivannan (Bagavathi Perumal). So, the three come together and decide to kill Monica as a web of lies and murders awaits.
From the word go, every scene has so much entertaining tension that it keeps you alert at all times and rarely lets you rest. Rao effortlessly makes you root for the anti-hero as the selfish, from-rags-to-riches Jayant. In fact, the entire cast is full of robust actors who steal every frame they are in. Sukant Goel as Gaurav More deserves a special mention for his performance. The women of Monica, O My Darling are badass. They have been written well and performed even better. Qureshi, as Monica, is glamorous and no-nonsense. In the world of gamblers, queen Monica is the only one who boldly accepts her sins. Apte plays a cop who works seriously but doesn't take herself seriously at all. She is fun yet confident, traits that are usually only given to male cops. Apte is a treat to watch with her overtly Marathi accent and apt comic timing. Zayn Marie Khan also makes a mark as Jayant's sister Shalu Vartak. I feel only Akansha Ranjan Kapoor couldn't play her role effectively as Nikki.
Each scene is a retro painting with dark shades of yellow, red, and black. Numerous themes in the background set up the film's distinguished world. I wonder what kind of experience the film would have offered in the theatres. The dialogues are authentic, hilarious, and raw. Their strength is that a lot has been spoken between the lines. Meanwhile, the background score in each scene validates all that you think has been spoken between the lines. The liveliness of the songs helps balance thrill and lightness. The scene where Jayant and Arvind converse without words is refreshing. Monica, O My Darling has a strong resemblance to Andhadhun- Pune, Radhika Apte, and a murderous web. Even though the film is based on the 1989 Japanese novel Burutasu No Shinzou by Keigo Higashino, it has been written by Andhadhun's writer, Yogesh Chandekar. However, Monica, O My Darling is even nastier, more hilarious, and more entertaining.
This film could have gone on for three more hours, and I would have gladly watched it. It's the most promising movie Bollywood has offered in a long time. I hope more movies join the universe of Andhadhun and Monica, O My Darling.
This film is currently streaming on Netflix!