Two things enticed me to watch ‘Dhokha: Round D Corner.’ First, it’s a crime thriller. Second, there’s R. Madhavan in the lead. Directed by Kookie Gulati and produced under the T-Series banner, this 2022 Hindi-language Netflix release also features T-Series’ heiress Khushalii Kumar in her acting debut.
Dhokha (betrayal in English) is a suspenseful thriller. The film starts with the montages of Saanchi (Kumar) and Yathaarth (Madhavan) in a romantic relationship. The married couple are seemingly happy and can’t take their eyes (or hands) off each other. But suddenly, the film cuts to Saanchi and Yathaarth fighting for divorce. Their relationship is in shambles.
Then one day, when Yathaarth is out for work, he learns from a television news that a terrorist has forced himself into his apartment while Saanchi was alone at home. He rushes home to find out that his apartment complex has already been sealed off by the police, who are trying to negotiate with the terrorist Haq Riyaz Gul (Aparshakti Khurana). Haq had just fled custody and entered the apartment to take Saanchi as a hostage.
Yathaarth meets ACP Harishchandra Malik (Darshan Kumar), who is in charge of the rescue efforts and trying to negotiate a deal with Haq. Haq, on the other hand, is adamant with his demands and threatens to kill Saanchi if they aren’t met. A worried Yathaarth requests the ACP to rescue his wife as soon as possible.
But it’s on foot only his wife he is worried about. Yathaarth then reveals to the police that his wife has been recently diagnosed with delusional disorder and she could be more dangerous than the terrorist if she does not take her medication on time. Saanchi’s psychiatrist Vidya—who she has time and again accused of being in an illicit relationship with her husband—also backs up Yathaarth’s claim.
Inside the house, Saanchi starts talking to Haq. She tells him about her personal life. She accuses her husband of cheating on her with her psychiatrist and giving her illegal medicines to prove to the world that she is mentally ill. Until then, the audience doesn’t know who is lying and who’s telling the truth.
Suspenseful, we can call Dhokha, but thrilling, we certainly cannot. There is something oddly loose about the film that doesn’t let it really take off. The plot has a lot of potential but there is no excitement in the film. I figured it’s because the screenplay is all over the place and the direction is, really, directionless. Dhokha might have been a good script but it hasn’t been able to tell the tale on screen.
Due to the bad writing and poor execution, even an actor of Madhavan’s caliber doesn’t appeal to the audience. Granted that he doesn’t get a proper backstory and his dialogues aren’t impactful enough for the situations he is in, the actor still feels tired and lacks energy throughout his performance. It’s like he was in a constant hangover all through the movie.
Talking about backstories, none of the actors get their fair share of character building, not even Haq whose present conflict is the consequences of his past. And the filmmakers have given him a Kashmiri accent that he is not able to stick to consistently, thus distracting the audience with his dialogue delivery. All the characters are written shabbily and performed in a lazy haze that does nothing to contribute to the already weak production.
In her debut, Kumar gives out the most lackluster performance, making the audience wonder how she even got the role. Oh, wait, she’s related to the filmmakers and the family has the habit of pushing their own members to the public as performers and entertainers, which they clearly aren’t. Kumar’s Saanchi is a complicated, layered character with a mental illness. But the only complication she displays is in understanding the script, while the audience is confused about whether she is under- or over-performing.
Who should watch it?
Watch it if you are a fan of R. Madhavan. Despite all the bashing I did, the actor is the most bearable in the movie. You can also watch it if you’re planning to watch Chiranjeevi’s latest ‘GodFather’. That movie is a bigger disaster.
Rating: 1.5 stars
Genre: Crime thriller
Actors: R. Madhavan, Khushalii Kumar, Aparshakti Khurana