By Rachit Raj
Long before Joaquin Phoenix mesmerized us with his masterful performance as the titular Joker in the Todd Phillip’s directorial, Sirish Kunder gave India its own Joker. A film about a scientist (Akshay Kumar) returning back to his country (as he did in Jaan-E-Maan, where Kumar again played a scientist) and somehow finds himself in the grips of a planted alien invasion that ended in a poorly digitalized alien dancing to a song in the final scene of the film. That film was one thought, the end of Kunder’s directorial ambitions. But after all these years, he returns with Mrs. Serial Killer, a film that is not parodying its narrative, for a change. Kunder is not making a spoof of the serial killer template (which honestly could have been an interesting turn), instead, we are expected to take this lazy, predictable story seriously. This alone makes this one of the worst films of the year, without accounting for Jacqueline Fernandez’s performance.
The film is about Dr. Mrityunjoy Mukerjee (Manoj Banjpayee) and his wife Sona Mukerjee (Jacqueline Fernandez), a happy couple that is torn into a crisis when the former is accused of being a serial killer – killing unmarried pregnant women and keeping their fetus in a jar. As a gynecologist, Mrityunjoy Mukerjee is an obvious suspect and doctored evidence presented by Imran Shahid (Mohit Raina) a police inspector (honestly we are never told his rank, the film does not find interest in such detailing), in the court further confirms his involvement.
Pushed in a corner, Sona does something so absurd that as a viewer one wonders how was this idea sold to the content curators at Netflix. The stupid idea is given to her by a lawyer Dr. Rastogi, who apparently lives in a mansion that is cut out from the fabric of the one Hritik Roshan lived in Guzaarish.
So suddenly Sona turns into a killer, trying to commit a murder exactly as the earlier ones were to give an illusion that the real serial killer is still out there. She embarks on this journey with her fair share of self-pity, hammering masqueraded as dialogue delivery, and just general stupidity that makes it impossible to make you root for this character or understand the very logic behind this movie.
Kunder clearly wants to make a dark, Joker-esque film about characters who thrive in the grey, but the film is too confused in its own world to come out as anything else but a terrible, terrible exhibition of arrogant misuse of the power you get in your hands when making a film on a platform like Netflix.
Bajpayee is here to just get a taste of what it feels to be in a film where his presence exists more as a plot-point than an actor, while the rest are pretending to be serious about a craft that they forgot to learn seriously when the time was right. Now, they are just hammering against a wall, trying hopelessly to make us find truth in their façade.
Kunder is credited here as the writer, director, editor, and background scorer. It is safe to say that every department of the film he headed has failed in ways that make every film made by his wife seem like an underappreciated masterpiece. Mrs. Serial Killer is a despicable film trying to bet its money on the last thirty minutes, hoping against all hopes that casting a maestro will somehow hide the rest from embarrassment.