Jatil – a name that the protagonist laments, yet it is a perfect name for Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s character. This sanskrit origin name is another name for Shiva, the God of destruction and it could not better describe the character of Jatil Yadav. The very portrayal of masculinity in all its guts and glory, and a massive egotist, Jatil Yadav has absolutely no fear of consequences or of any of his superiors. He is a police officer, and a good one at that, with a very keen eye for minutia. His drive is not to solve the crime or from love towards his vocation, or even from sympathy; rather it is from a need to prove that he is superior, to satisfy his own ego. He is reckless, in a lot of cases very insecure, has very skewed views of people, he is very combative and is not shy of locking his horns with the bigger bulls.
That is exactly why I love Jatil Yadav’s character. He is far from perfect, but he is definitely an extremely intriguing character. An underdog, if you will. He has very little in terms of support throughout the plot, but he still somehow pulls it off. He could also be described as fearless, dedicated and conscientious; it’s just a matter of perspectives. He is undoubtedly one of the best aspects of Raat Akeli Hai.
Coming to the actual plot itself, a healthy dash of sexism, classism, and a little dash of colorism make for a very intersectional plot. None of the women in the plot have much in the way of a voice, and this film moonlights as a feminst dialogue that Netflix is very invested in at the moment. That said, the protagonist is far from someone who respects women. The plot revolves around a murder investigation of a rather disgusting old man that preys on women. The investigation itself is mired by political and familial interventions by some characters that are incredibly volatile. Jatil Yadav has decided to throw caution in the air and pursue the killer of this man among a wide roster of suspects. What’s more interesting is that each of the members of the family has a motive to kill.
Needless to say, Raat Akeli Hai is an emotional roller coaster. The excellent screenplay is further accentuated by excellent performances by each of the characters. Raat Akeli Hai has a roster of some very talented actors, like Radhika Apte as Radha, Shweta Tripathi as Karuna Singh, Tigmanshu Dhulia as SSP Lalji Shukla, Shivani Raghuvanshi as Vasudha Singh, Aditya Srivastava as Munna Raja, and Nishant Dahiya as Vikram Singh among others. Radhika Apte’s performance as Radha is especially well executed. There is a certain tension as she enters the frame. You could put it down to the tension between Jatil and Radha, or the tension from her prowess as an actor.
They are not just the only stars of the show however. The plot(Smita Singh, Sacred games), cinematography (Pankaj Kumar, tumbbad), and the director Honey Trehan work together in a beautiful harmony that happens to be extremely gritty. For a debutante, Trehan has done an incredible job of making this film entertaining to everyone, even those who do not like crime thrillers.
Certain scenes deserve a special mention, as they really enhance the perspectives of the crime thriller while also being extremely aesthetically appealing. Scenes like the one where Jatil Yadav drives up towards ‘Satyamev Jayate’ in a dimly lit parking lot of the police station, or the scene where the butcher (interesting choice of occupation here, he does not just butcher animals) holes up a bloody hand on the MLA’s poster are the ones that really foreshadow the events that unfold.
The setting of the film sharply contrasts with the happenings in the film, as the film is set in a mansion that is prepped for a wedding. Joy or celebration is far from the occupants in the mansion, as most of the inhabitants are victims in one way or another. Either of their own follies or of circumstances outside their control. The women are mostly voiceless, yet they carry most of the plot with Jatil Yadav as a catalyst.
Either way, Raat Akeli Hai is another winner in the hands of Netflix. If you liked Sacred Games, or Paatal Lok, this is a must watch. The twists and turns are completely unexpected, and the plot is interwoven with some very excellent social commentary.