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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



The Perfect Murder: Howdoit, not whodunit

The Perfect Murder: Howdoit, not whodunit

Promising short film-maker Vikkramm Chandirramani’s Perfect Murder has no murder and, as it turns out, the planned murder-to-be is far from ‘perfect’. An urban crime drama, the short film of 18 minutes duration is too short to fully develop its plot, which has an interesting premise.

Kabir, a cheating husband and a wannabe film-star, cannot wait for his billionaire wife Neha to die of a weak and fast-aging heart, because he wants to produce a film to launch his own career. Moreover, the actress he loves and sleeps with, Carol, gives him an ultimatum to get a divorce, and give her tons of money too, pronto. Out of the blue, she suggests that he murder his wife, to hit jackpot. Murder? Not a bad idea, reflects the husband, and starts planning what could be ‘the perfect murder’. Aw, come on….no spoilers here…not in a murder mystery!

There are only five characters in the film: the triangular lead, a doctor and a plumber. There is no butler, lest you start thinking the butler did it, a là classic murder mystery author Dame Agatha Christie. But yeah, there is a plumber. Wrong again. I do not mind revealing that neither the plumber, nor the doctor, were planning anything like murder. So that leaves just two suspects, the husband and the beloved. Why would the beloved try anything silly, when her paramour is willing to be twiddled around her thumb? Husband it is. From there onwards, at least, the narrative is clearly ‘howdoit’, not whodunit.

The Perfect Murder is about three twists at the very end, and seems to have been worked out backwards, to get to these plot points. Though the surprises are indeed surprises, the lead-up is not convincing. Since motive and guilt are clear, we are not made to guess at all.

The characters are as stock and stencilesque as they come: the sick wife, the two-timing struggling actor-villain husband and the greedy actress-vamp. Even the plumber and the doctor could be dispensed with (pun not intended), as they add nothing significant to the plot that could not have been conveyed using other screen-writing techniques. Better delineation was called for, using just the three characters.

Written, directed, edited and produced by Vikkramm Chandirramani, The Perfect Murder is slick. Like his much-appreciated Destiny (2018), this one is set in an urban milieu, something Mumbai-boy Vikkramm understands best. Editing has reduced the length to a bare minimum, to convey the plot as it stands, but it would serve the central idea better if the writing and direction was deeper and inspired, like the three twists at the end, and never mind if it takes a minute or two more.

Rohan Gandotra (Kabir) is an Indian television actor who made his debut with the TV show Everest, produced by film-maker Ashutosh Gowariker. He was selected from over 200 people for this film. Rohan has since appeared on popular shows Qubool Hai, Kaala Teeka, Naagin 2, Dil Se Dil Tak and Laal Ishq. He will get no sympathy, though he does reasonable justice to the role, because divine justice is destined to intervene.

Samvedna Suwalka is a trained actor, having completed a two years Diploma in Acting. She has played the lead in several films, including Natsamrat (Gujarati), Phamous (Hindi) and The Memoir (English, South Africa). Neha is the billionaire-next-door type, who can put a man in his place when she wants to. She underplays, and gets all the sympathy too.

Niharica Raizada is a trained actor from the New York Film Academy. She is from the family of music composer, late O. P. Nayyar and has family roots in Kanpur, though she grew up in Luxembourg. A Miss India UK 2010 she played the lead in Warrior Savitri (2016), and plays an important part in the forthcoming Total Dhamaal. Gifted with sharp features and an easy demeanour, Niharica was keen on playing Neha, but, though it is a negative character, she is spontaneous, bold, and convincing as Carol. Deepak Daryani is passable as the doctor.

Both ladies allow just that peek into their well-sculpted figures, thanks to suitably ventilated costumes. And at places, the dialogue is bold too, whenever it is contextually required.

Suman Dutta’s camerawork is partly hampered by the limited space available, with the frames and angles not getting justice from the cuts. Sound Design by Shantanu Trivedi and Music by Shridhar Nagraj are of a serviceable standard.

It is possible that Vikkramm was inspired by the old adage, ‘getting a taste of…..’, but a more precise dose of suspense and excitement was required, to bring the proverb to life, not a literal one. Though Vikkramm has the potential to deliver better results, the film is still watchable.

And be a sport--please do not reveal the end!

Rating: ** ½


Film accessible at, on and after 30 January.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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