It wouldn’t lessen the experience if you guess who the real culprit is in 'Dhokha: Round D Corner.' Although, it would be impressive if you could do. In just the first half, the Kookie Gulati directorial presents so many possibilities that one feels like a confused child trying to grab a bunch of helium balloons, flying in every direction. Moreover, the child doesn’t even know how helium balloons work.
The story isn’t that simple. R Madhavan plays Yathaarth Sinha, an advertising executive, whose wife Sanchi Sinha (a promising debut by Khushalii Kumar) is seeking a divorce (Decoupled?). In the next scene, we see Madhavan talking to a psychiatrist over the phone, his wife’s condition is worsening, they have never talked about divorce. Madhavan reaches his office and sees on the news that a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Haq Gul (Aparshakti Khurana) has taken refuge in his flat and is keeping his wife hostage. The cop on the case is The Kashmir Files’ Darshan Kumar. Yathaarth tells the cop that his wife Sanchi suffers from a delusional disorder. Sanchi tells Haq Gul that her husband gives her pills to make her ‘mad’ and is having an affair with her psychiatrist. The cop tells Yathaarth that Haq Gul is a dreaded terrorist, who killed 13 students in a blast. Haq Gul tells Sanchi he is being framed.
As convoluted as the plot may sound, the film doesn’t give time to its viewers to linger on it. The screenplay flies like a bullet shattering the glass layers of our theories. It parachutes the audience from plot twist, to plot twist and beams them up at whim. Kookie Gulati masterfully peppers dull moments with pun-ny dialogues and tasteful humour. Most comic scenes come from the media coverage of the episode. When a journalist asks a neighbour what she thinks about Sanchi, she reminisces how welcoming the hostage was, thinking she is dead. As the story gets wonkier, an Arnab-isque news anchor strikes a table and shouts ‘Chal kya raha hain, mujhe batao, mujhe batao’ (What is happening? Tell me, tell me).
Although most of the action happens in a contained housing society, the production design appears a bit cheap. There are obvious green screens around the flat. The film, however, compensates with its direction.
The real winner is Aparshakti Khurana. He seamlessly shifts between being comically volatile and endearingly vulnerable. His Kashmiri accent gets overboard in parts but showcases his effort. Khushalii is objectified but not without purpose. She plays a woman with a mental ailment with ease. Madhavan feels a bit one-note while Darshan ably executes the role of a stern cop.
We have seen films like Dhokha. Too many doors are opened too soon and later, the makers struggle to shut the right ones. Sometimes, in the compulsion of making it thrilling, the plot gets lost. Although the film isn’t untouched by the curse of Indian thrillers—a stretched climax explained through a flashback—it does make sense in a nonsensical way. The great part about Dhokha isn’t just its rollercoaster highs and lows. It’s that it doesn’t deceive its audience.
Dhokha-Round D Corner
Cast: R Madhavan, Aparshakti Khurana, Darshan Kumar, and Khushalii Kumar
Director: Kookie Gulati