Director: Mukul Abhyankar
Cast: Tabu, Manoj Bajpayee, Annu Kapoor
The late, great American film critic Gene Siskel used to have a basic test of quality. He would ask – Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch? Missing would flunk that test. Hands down, I would rather see Tabu, Manoj Bajpayee and Annu Kapoor eat lunch than go through the motions of mystery that this film sets up.
Among other things, at one point, Annu playing Inspector Buddu from the Mauritius Police Force, shouts – Don’t you tell me you don’t know anything about the usage of the condom. He says this to Sushant, played by Manoj Bajpayee. Sushant is a married executive who seems to be incapable of interacting with an attractive woman without coming on to her. And then there is Aparna, a mother dealing with the trauma of her missing three-year-old daughter.
Debutant director Mukul Abhyankar said in an interview that Missing is his tribute to Hitchcock. That’s a fine aspiration but the reality is a film that is so poorly scripted that it becomes unintentionally comical. The narrative takes a few unpredictable twists but the dialogue and characters are inexplicably foolish. In one scene, as the lies mount, Inspector Buddu exasperatedly exclaims – ab yeh schizophrenia kahan se aa gaya. But the highlight is his language. Since the story is set in Mauritius, Buddu keeps breaking into French. It’s a killer.
Of course the setting does allow DOP Sudeep Chatterjee to create some stunning visuals – the water and lush greenery are in stark contrast to the grim plot. Composer M. M. Kreem’s background score is as unsubtle as Manoj’s acting. One of Hindi cinema’s finest actors seems to be helplessly flailing, trying to make sense of the script. It’s up to Tabu to save the day and she does manage to give the film some heft.
Somewhere, buried in this wreck is a satisfying suspense thriller. But it never emerges.