Silence 2 Review: A Dull Thriller ‘Saved’ By How Inane It is

The film is available on Zee5.
Silence 2 Review: A Dull Thriller ‘Saved’ By How Inane It is
Silence 2 Review: A Dull Thriller ‘Saved’ By How Inane It is

Director: Aban Bharucha Deohans
Writer: Aban Bharucha Deohans
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Prachi Desai, Dinker Sharma, Chetan Sharma, Sahil Vaid, Parul Gulati

Duration: 138 minutes

Streaming on: ZEE5

Silence 2: The Night Owl Bar Shootout is the sequel to Silence… Can You Hear It? (I could not), the 2021 crime thriller that marked the beginning of a tacky whodunit franchise starring Manoj Bajpayee as a Sherlock-styled and The Family Man-toned cop, cracking twisted cases. It’s a very ZEE5 film – yes, this is an adjective – in its treatment of the genre. The formula goes thus: It opens with a murder; ACP Avinash Verma (Bajpayee) and his Special Crimes Unit (SCU) go into elementary-my-dear-watson mode; the writing resorts to silly misdirection and redder-than-red herrings; the suspect is so blatantly designed that you know the actual killer will be random; the twist backpedals its way into the premise; it ends with the team sitting on a table and going “Yaar, what a case that was!” and “The devil really was in the details, huh?”. I’ve seen Scooby-Doo episodes that sound more convincing. 

Silence 2 is remarkably dull and green for an investigative drama. At least 40 minutes of its 138 minutes have no reason to exist. The idea is that a ‘regular’ bar shootout in Mumbai – which causes the death of a politician – unlocks the presence of another crime: A human trafficking racket. Resident genius Avinash can tell from the blood splatter and body angles that the real target at the bar was a teenage escort named Asma Khan. (In the opening scene, we see her being punched by a faceless client after she finds a photo on their laptop). The screenplay thinks it’s being clever by introducing Avinash as someone who arbitrarily rescues a sex worker from a lewd man – a clue to the hidden theme of the narrative. But it’s all done with such a plastic, television-soap aesthetic that Avinash’s journey becomes a slog to watch. It doesn’t help that his team has zero personality. At one point, Asma’s friend is killed under their watch, and he yells lyrical lines like “Her life was interrupted by death!” only to be met with robotic stares. They’re a symptom of the kind of craft that forces us to hear a door closing two seconds before it happens on screen. 

Silence 2 on ZEE5
Silence 2 on ZEE5

An Unwitting Parody

A parallel thread looks at the alleged mastermind of the racket. He speaks in a sing-song voice and ‘performs’ in an office whose whereabouts are supposed to be a mystery. There’s also a long-drawn and cringey sequence in Rajasthan, where a group of young virgins dressed in sleeping-beauty attire are abused at a rowdy bachelor party. It looks like the sort of Seventies’ sexploitation flick that unwittingly parodies itself. The sloppiness is surreal, for instance when Avinash’s personal life is reduced to a single moment of him speaking on the phone while drinking whiskey in his new apartment. The story could’ve riffed on his loneliness and dysfunctional-detective ways, but it’s too busy turning Mumbai into a colourless gimmick. There is no sense of place, time or rhythm; all that matters is that someone is bad and we don’t know who it is. It’s a painfully basic rendition of a template that’s been milked dry by the Indian streaming space. And of course there’s the final revelation, where Avinash circles the killer and narrates his findings, even as a backstory from a different movie seems to hijack this one. 

The film also features Prachi Desai as Avinash’s subordinate. This sentence has no value unless you’ve survived Forensic (2022), another ZEE5 shocker – starring Vikrant Massey and Prachi Desai – with the most farcical twist in the history of movie twists. Desai’s character here is so incidental that it almost feels like Silence 2 is atoning for the sins of Forensic. Unimaginative plots often use men (and the casting of these actors) as a hollow smokescreen, and Silence 2 goes as far as compromising on its own craft – lighting, staging and framing shots badly – so that the identity of the killer remains (literally) blurred. If Arjun Mathur was the hammy front in the first film, this time it’s Dinker Sharma – a promising actor trapped in the role of a deranged Shakespearean artist whose ‘scenes’ bring to mind Nirmal Pandey’s histrionics from One 2 Ka 4 (2001) and Jitin Gulati’s trans extravagance in Kaala (2023). The commitment to camp is admirable but misguided. 

Without giving away more, let’s just say that Silence 2 continues the troubling trend of equating womanhood and/or queerness with mental instability. If such films weren’t so inane, they’d be offensive. As I write this, the prospect of a “Forensic Silence” multiverse just dawned upon me. The crime to be solved would revolve around a movie franchise that poisons its viewers by making them watch otherwise-fine performers phone it in together. It’s a hard case. After all, there are multiple suspects and copycat killers. 

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