‘Monica, O My Darling’ movie review: A vintage-style Netflix release

Sunny Mahat

Sunny Mahat

‘Monica, O My Darling’ movie review: A vintage-style Netflix release

Despite running like a classic Bollywood whodunit, it’s refreshing and entertaining to watch

There are times when a film’s name is enough to hook your interest and create expectations. This is what happened to me when I first heard about ‘Monica, O My Darling.’ And it’s no coincidence that the film’s name is inspired by the chorus section of the track ‘Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja’ from the 1971 Bollywood film, Caravan.

Adapted from the 1989 Japanese novel ‘Burutasu No Shinzou’ by Keigo Higashino, ‘Monica, O My Darling’ is a vintage-style crime thriller that can also share the label of dark comedy. Vasan Bala directs this neo-noir-themed movie that, despite running like a classic Bollywood whodunit, is refreshing and entertaining to watch.

The movie begins with a murder of a worker at the Union factory and we don’t know who the killer is. Then we’re taken six months forward and introduced to Jayant Arkhedkar (Rajkummar Rao) who is being promoted to the board of directors for the company at its 50th-anniversary event. Robotics engineer Jayant, who is a rising star at Unicorn, comes from very humble beginnings but has successfully been able to impress the company CEO Satyanarayana Adhikari and his daughter Nikki Adhikari with whom he is engaged.

At the same event, the CEO’s secretary Monica Machado (Huma Qureshi), introduces herself with a seductive cabaret-styled dance routine. We quickly learn that Monica is having an affair with Jayant and is apparently pregnant with his child. She tells Jayant she wants to raise the child and that he should pay for its upbringing if he doesn’t want her to spill the beans, potentially ruining his life.

But Jayant is not the only one who is having an affair with and being blackmailed by Monica. Arvind Manivannan, from the accounts department at Unicorn, and Nishikant Adhikari, the son of Satyanarayana, are both being blackmailed by Monica. She has also told them she is pregnant with their child. The three men then get together to plot Monica’s murder and get rid of her to end their troubles.

This is when things start getting really interesting in the film. A murder take place but it’s not Monica. And then another murder takes place and all the characters are engulfed by the fear of who’s going to be next.

Jayant, as the main character, faces a few assassination attempts, and that only deepens the mystery. And when ACP Vijayashanti Naidu (Radhika Apte) comes into the picture to investigate the murder, the already captivating sequences churn into full-blown entertainment.

There are many things to love about ‘Monica, O My Darling’. First, the screenplay is an almost perfect screen adaptation of the mystery novel. To take a piece of literature written in a whole different setting, in a different country, and context and then turn it around to suit your intended audience is a difficult task. The writing and direction of the film are on point.

The film has an ensemble cast. These are not necessarily big names of Bollywood but faces that we’ve seen proving themselves time and again in Indian cinema. In this movie too, There are so many things to love about ‘Monica, O My Darling’. First, the screenplay is an almost perfect screen adaptation of the mystery novel.

Rao is in his element and delivers yet again but there’s nothing extraordinary about him. Qureshi too looks natural and in sync with what’s happening around her. But it’s Apte’s character as ACP Vijayashanti that leaves the audience astonished. As a powerful policewoman in charge of the investigation, she is great in the film, doing full justice to her character. You’ll have to watch the movie to witness the wildness that she unleashes on screen.

With its retro Bollywood-ish title, I was expecting the film to be a bit more musical than it actually is. The film has only one title track called ‘Yeh Ek Zindagi’ that tries to emulate the disco/cabaret music of the 70s. The rest of the background score by Achint Thakkar is befitting the film’s theme, but again, expectations can be a cruel thing.

Who should watch it?

‘Monica, O My Darling’ is as good as a neo-noir Hindi movie can get—there’s some mystery, some thrill, and a whole lot of style in the film. Anyone who loves a good watch, regardless of the genre or language, will definitely enjoy the movie.

Rating: 4 stars

Run time: 2hrs 9mins

Genre: Thriller, mystery

Actors: Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte

Director: Vasan Bala