Director: Naman Nitin Mukesh
Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Adah Sharma, Shama Sikander, Gul Panag, Rajit Kapur, Sudhanshu Pandey
My takeaway from Bypass Road is that perhaps it isn’t such a good idea to let an actor write a script, play the lead role, co-produce the film and have his brother direct it. Because then what you get isn’t a film, it’s a showreel.
Neil Nitin Mukesh has written the story, screenplay and dialogue of Bypass Road, which is a fantastically convoluted thriller. There are so many twists, reveals, false alarms, schemers and disgruntled lovers that I lost track of the story. I honestly can’t tell you what went down in the lavish Alibaug house in which much of the film is set and where everyone seems to want to kill each other. But we do get NNM as Vikram Kapoor – a dashing playboy, a loving elder brother, a vulnerable wheelchair-bound victim, a Machiavellian mastermind and a debonair fashion designer – that incidentally is his day job. He’s a style guru who sleeps with and then dumps their showstopper Sarah. She tells him – Mujhe hurt karoge, chalega. Mere ego ko hurt karoge, nahi chalega. I’d like to throw that line at someone but I’m still trying to figure out what it means.
Vikram is also dating an intern who reads Harry Potter to him when he is hospitalized after a car accident. Clearly, the global conversation about sexual politics in the workplace has eluded him. That could be because he’s too busy dealing with his father who neglected him, his step-mother who is plotting against him and two other men who keep showing up to create trouble. Vikram’s only ally is the trusted house help Kaka who looks after him. But we all know what happens to characters like these.
Like his brother, debutant director Naman Nitin Mukesh wants to cover all bases. So Bypass Road has shades of Neil’s debut film Johnny Gaddaar, then goes into Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion territory and then finally settles into a slasher-meets-home-invasion movie like Game Over. Naman has a fondness for overhead drone shots. We also see way too much of the Alibaug jetty. And we get multiple shots of a Bypass Road road sign, almost as though Naman doesn’t trust us to remember the name of the film. Characters also keep repeating dialogue – like someone will say: Is gun mein abhi bhi ek goli baki hai and then immediately follow it up with: There is still one bullet left in the gun. It’s mystifying.
Naman creates some effectively suspenseful sequences – like a moment in Vikram’s bedroom when he is trying to escape a masked killer and a scene in which he nearly drowns in a bathtub. But he doesn’t have much to work with – the script is incoherent and the characters are cardboard. Apart from Neil, the others have little to do – Rajit Kapur plays Vikram’s clueless father. There’s a flashback in which he wears an unintentionally comical hairpiece and I almost felt a little sorry for him. Gul Panag is the step-mom who wears a swimsuit and drinks with girlfriends so we know she must be bad. And Adah Sharma is the intern who devotedly nurses Vikram back to health despite his supermodel shenanigans.
In this world, bad behaviour has no consequences, which would be fine if the plot wasn’t so silly. The unkindest cut is a tepid club remix of “So Gaya Yeh Jahan” from T– one of my favourite Chunky Pandey memories, now ruined forever.