Monica, O My Darling
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The Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, and Radhika Apte-starring film is more than simply a masterfully produced whodunit because of its scrumptious pop culture allusions and contagious musical interludes.

Vasan Bala’s Monica, O My Darling is a brilliant contribution to the limited canon of Indian noir. It is a tight pulp thriller that offers more than a few smart observations on the peculiarities of human nature along the way.

Bala is a tasty translation of the mystery book Burutasu No Shinzou by Japanese author Keigo Higashino that skillfully localizes the unusual ingredients for Indian taste.

The clever story is more than simply a whodunit; it is peppered with mouthwatering pop-culture allusions and infectious musical interludes. Vasan Bala pays tribute to the pioneers of Indian noir, including Vijay Anand and Sriram Raghavan. In fact, those familiar with Raghavan’s work might virtually detect Johnny Gaddaar’s (2007) presence throughout the movie.

A great back narrative always raises suspicion, Radhika Apte’s feisty detective Naidu informs a suspect in a witty example of self-aware writing: “Dheele chhodne ka, feel ke saath.” Bala acts in just this manner. He allows us to savour the experience of being on the verge of our seats. Even though we already know who he is, the absurd route to get there is intriguing. By inserting references to actual problems in between frantic scenarios, he gives the red herrings room to breathe and creates an emotional response for each one of them.

Between the layers, there are references to self-seeking corporate governance, manual control of machinery, and the limited perspective of recent engineering graduates. Bala is skilled at riding his hobby horse, albeit it’s easier said than done. Similar to his main character Monica Machado (Huma Qureshi), who serves as Adhikari’s personal secretary and owns a tech company that creates robotic robots. Until a snake crosses her way, Monica believes she can turn men into robots.

Monica has Jayant Arkhedkar on her list of potential suitors (Rajkummar Rao). The egotistical, self-made techie, who goes by the name Johnny and is the sister’s fiancé and colleague Gaurav (Sukant Goel), has made it from Angola to one of the directors of the business known as Unicorn. To understand Jayant’s ascent, author Yogesh Chandekar needs the readers to have a basic understanding of geography and business jargon. Nishi (Akanksha Ranjan Kapoor), the owner’s elegant but spoiled daughter, is in Jayant’s care, but he struggles to reconcile his humble past with his rich present, where life is governed by computers that he can access via his wristwatch.

However, life, like Monica, is constantly up to something new. Before Jayant can make up his mind, the technician realizes that he is not playing this game alone. She intends to use blackmail on him. Both the accounts head Arvind Manivannan (Bagavathi Perumal) and the owner’s son Nishikant (Sikander Kher) are traveling on the same boat. The three come up with a scheme, and as a result, we get a coquette of a movie that plays with our emotions and whets our appetite. Bala permits divine intervention to take effect at pivotal moments. At one point, in the middle of a masterfully staged scenario, Bala really hands Jayant the mirror. The storyline is made even more flavorful by the characters’ use of various languages and odd surnames.

Although Double XL was just published last week, Huma sells an intriguing tale with a swoon-worthy performance in her role as Monica. Rajkummar excels in a multi-faceted role once more as a guy who is practically reduced to a bystander by circumstances. His dance movements are as mesmerizing as his intense gaze into a cobra’s eyes. Returning to Netflix, Radhika gets to tell the truth about the situation through some humorous banter in her role as a police officer. It’s encouraging to see Shiva, the villain from years past, back in action. Everyone in the ensemble cast, whether it be Sukant, Sikandar, Akanksha, or Zayn Marie Khan, contributes flavor to the gloomy world, but it’s really the writing that makes even the smaller characters stand out and leave their mark.

Varun Grover’s humorous lyrics and Achint Thakkar’s jazzy melodies both convey the fickleness of human nature and the fleeting aspect of existence.

Although there is perhaps too much self-awareness and tipping of the hat, Monica is a must-see.