London Confidential starts off with a promise of chaos- the good kind. There is another pandemic on the verge of breaking out at the India-China border, courtesy the Chinese, but this time it’s a planned attack. This is going to be unmasked at a Virology conference in London, when a Chinese mole will out them with the help of Indian agents. (I just saw this as a funny rub- the Chinese are encroaching upon Indian lives and all we can do is wait for a Chinese in London to show up and save India. The #Atmanirbhar memo seems to have been lost in the mail.) The RAW agent who has the information on that Chinese mole is now missing. And now there’s also a mole in the midst of the Indian embassy.
But within the first twenty minutes of the 1 hour twenty minute film, the plot devolves into another kind of chaos- the bad kind. The missing agent is found dead, the pandemic plot-line reduced to an on-screen countdown – 5 days to conference, 4 Days to conference… Day of Conference. (I am assuming the intent here is to conjure up tension- it didn’t work.) The film thus focuses on finding out who that Indian mole is and the suspense thus entirely lies in that exposition. It’s awful then that I predicted exactly who the mole is, 30 minutes into the film.
Mouni Roy plays the pregnant Uma, a RAW agent…Her pregnancy is not a condition, but a character trait here. You’re supposed to see her as fragile, yet fierce.
This is because every conversation here only serves as “evidence”, so even normal banter, that is rare, becomes suspicious. When it happens, you know something sinister is brewing underneath.
Mouni Roy plays the pregnant Uma, a RAW agent who is trying to find out who the mole is, attempting to get the information on the virus, expose China, and save the world. Her pregnancy is not a condition, but a character trait here. You’re supposed to see her as fragile, yet fierce. But she seems to hold onto only one expression- something between doubt and damage. Then there is Arjun, a fellow intelligence officer, played by Purab Kohli mounted with a man-bun, who makes his lower-class lack of privilege extremely well known. It’s comical in its shoddy writing. Together they embark upon finding out the whistleblower in their midst- following people, taping their sexual conquests, and confronting them with it later on. If not convenient, it’s definitely contrived.
The film seems to be shot as an ode to wintry London- steely, silvery, silhouette-y. Entire fight sequences take place with just the outlines of characters, the camera at a distance so it just pans from one Pow! to the next, as opposed to tracking it. This distant viewpoint doesn’t help the inert storytelling. There’s no thrill when the gut is punched, and no gut dropping when a murder takes place- of which there is a lot. People drop like flies, as do plotlines. Married men have gay side-lovers, the heterosexuals have their affairs, previous faux-pas are all perfunctarily brought up, and brown envelopes keep getting exchanged, paintings, photographs, passports, poker- it keeps the plot populated, but also pat. It plays out a breakneck speed which isn’t always a bad thing, but a rattling train on a broken track ends only in one way- disaster.