HIT The First Case review: Rajkummar Rao is superb in edge-of-the-seat thriller

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HIT The First Case isn’t simply one of the many Hindi remakes of south films floating around. The film, which delivers a sharp, if slightly over-the-top murder mystery, is much more than that. For starters, it sets up a potential franchise, the future of which will be determined by this film’s box office numbers. But beyond that too, HIT is a well-made thriller that keeps you guessing till the end, a quality which today’s whodunnits seem to have lost. The Rajkummar Rao and Sanya Malhotra-starrer is a throwback to old-school Bollywood thrillers that keep you glued to your seat throughout its 136-minute runtime. Also read: HIT The First Case trailer: Rajkummar Rao is a cop in search of girlfriend Sanya Malhotra

HIT follows Vikram (Rajkummar), a police officer, who struggles to deal with the demons from his past as he navigates the horrors his job throws at him. Vikram is diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) due to the violent death of his wife. But he is thrown in at the deep end, after a missing persons case causes his girlfriend Neha (a forensic expert played by Sanya) to go missing, as well. Now, Vikram has to race against time to find out how these cases are linked, and can he save both the girls.

The film begins rather tentatively with three separate tracks that act as preludes, introducing us to the characters and the back stories. But they seem rather disconnected and hence, the first half hour of the film feels too loose. However, it isn’t boring, even if it lacks context initially. But as the investigation begins, the film really begins to come into its own. It throws red herrings in your face, but quite subtly, and you begin to doubt every character quite soon.

The thrill aspect of HIT can be favourably compared to some of the other good Bollywood thrillers of late, most notably Drishyam (interestingly, another south remake). The action, suspense, and the tense and loud background score keep you on the edge of your seat for almost two hours. It also very smartly portrays the protagonist’s brilliance. In showing that he is smart, the plot does not belittle the other cops or show them as bumbling buffoons, which many a films have been guilty of. Everyone is competent in varying degrees, Vikram is just a notch above the rest.

The depiction of PTSD and panic attacks is good, but does tend to get repetitive soon. There are only so many times you can see a person being out of breath due to the same trigger, over and over again. I do understand it has been done to show just how much Vikram is affected by the trauma of his past, but after a while, the scenes begin to give a sense of déjà vu without adding much to the narrative.

There is one other flaw though. The emotional scenes and dialogue come across as superficial. At times, it seems that the actors are merely reading lines from the script, without emoting, which puts you off. But one can’t fault the actors there because the same performers are brilliant elsewhere. So I will have to chalk this one down to Sailesh Kolanu’s direction and Girish Kohli’s dialogue. Both these things are brilliant in parts, and amateurish in others, giving the film a patchwork quilt-life feel, which is lesser than the sum of its parts. This inconsistency is what stops HIT: The First Case from being truly a must-watch.

Sanya Malhotra and Rajkummar Rao in HIT The First Case.
Sanya Malhotra and Rajkummar Rao in HIT The First Case.

But do watch it. If nothing else, watch it for Rajkummar Rao. The actor has to shoulder much of the burden of the film as it almost completely revolves around him. Aiding him are competent actors like Dalip Tahil and Milind Gunaji, who all do their part well. But it’s Rajkummar, who steals the show. The tortured-yet-brilliant cop investigating a puzzling case is a genre in itself by now. We have seen this trope far too often to expect something new. But Rajkummar does that. He brings out the vulnerability of the character, including his fears and hesitation and not merely his anger, which many other such portrayals focus on. Vikram is battling his demons, and you feel for him, almost beginning to think like him as the film progresses. It truly takes you into the mind of your protagonist. I do have a complaint though. Sanya Malhotra has too little screen time. Whatever scenes she gets, she does justice to them. But I do wish, the film had spent more time establishing the lead pair’s bond so that her going missing really feels big.

HIT: The First Case is guilty of leaving many questions unanswered. Vikram’s history and his trauma are never fully explored, and then the film inexplicably ends on a cliffhanger, setting the stage for a second case. Considering a sequel to the Telugu original is under works, this one will probably get one too, even though it doesn’t really need one. There was ample time in the film to resolve all plot lines here. In fact, as the cliffhanger approached, I did feel if the tone and the feel of the film was more OTT, than big screen. Maybe HIT would have been more at home as a four or five-episode season of a web show. It is still a great watch but I do feel it could have been so much more.

HIT The First Case

Director: Sailesh Kolanu

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Sanya Malhotra, Milind Gunaji, Shilpa Shukla, Dalip Tahil




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