There is no murder in Murder 3. Considering that the Bhatts have spent years duping the audience into believing in their films enough to turn them into box-office successes, this isn’t a spoiler.
But the real surprise is that after raiding the DVD racks to remake and rehash every foreign thriller on the sly, the production house with the most franchises in the business (Raaz to Jism to Murder…) has officially bought the rights of The Hidden Face, a 2011 Colombian thriller. What’s unsurprising is that Murder 3 has been lifted from it frame-by-frame (despite Mahesh Bhatt stepping in to take the writing credits), the original’s tautness being predictably marred by unnecessary faff and fluff.
Murder 3 follows the same sex-sin-spinechiller template that has defined the franchise. However, this time around, debutant director Vishesh Bhatt chooses to go a little easy on the erotic and concentrate on the emotional. Does that make Murder 3 a better film than its predecessors? Yes and no.
Murder 3 starts off in Cape Town where out-of-work wildlife photographer Vikram (Randeep Hooda) gets called up for a glamorous calendar shoot. The catch is that he will have to relocate to India for a year. Vikram arrives in India, girlfriend Roshni (Aditi Rao Hydari) in tow and moves into a mansion in the middle of nowhere.
Things sour between the two soon enough and Roshni leaves him, just like that. Even as he becomes the prime suspect in her unexplained disappearance, Vikram wastes no time in getting into a relationship with Nisha (Sara Loren), the maitre d’ of a restaurant he frequents. She jumps into bed with him and then moves in, but is soon unnerved by an unseen presence in the house.
For a thriller, Murder 3 takes too much time to build the suspense and intrigue. Despite clocking a total runtime of just two hours, the first half meanders along, often getting repetitive. Vishesh employs the predictable horror tropes — billowing curtains, hissing waterpipes, rattling windows, sudden power cuts and looming shadows — but the yawn moments are too frequent. And so are the songs (by Pritam and Roxen Band), none of which have replay power.
The action picks up somewhat after the interval, but the unravelling of the mystery is mechanical, the film even falling prey to a number of unintentionally hilarious sequences, involving the two women. It doesn’t help that the dialogues are both clunky and cringe-worthy. Example? Person 1: “Something is not right.” Person 2: “Oh you mean to say that something is wrong?”
However, credit must be given where it’s due and unlike some of the films that have come out of the Bhatt stable, Murder 3 isn’t an altogether useless watch. The screenplay does pack in a bit of punch, especially towards the penultimate scenes and if you haven’t seen the Colombian original, then the shock ending also comes as a sort of consolation, redeeming the film to an extent.
However, you can’t help but wonder what a bunch of better actors would have done for the film. Bypassing the in-house Emraan Hashmi for current favourite Randeep may not have been a good gamble for the Bhatts. The intense actor sleepwalks through his part, the atrocious wig doing nothing to salvage him even in the looks department.
Both Aditi and Sara look like a million bucks, but while the former brings some earnestness to her role, what Sara does best is flutter her eyelashes and look painfully scared.
Unlike the first two films, there isn’t much action between the sheets, the lovemaking scenes even coming off hurried and in autoplay-mode.
If you are looking for a one-time watch that doesn’t really test your patience, then Murder 3 might just be the ticket this weekend. Just don’t expect to be bowled over either by its style or its substance.
murder 3 (u/a)
- Director: Vishesh Bhatt
- Cast: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren, Rajesh Shringapure
- Running time: 120 minutes
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