Samrat & Co. - Review

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
quick review:

Samrat & Co is an unfortunate recreation of Sherlock Holmes in an Indian setting, one that miserably fails in its mission. The only saving grace is that a large chunk of the audience will probably think they're really smart, because they'll solve the film's puzzles quicker than the Indian Sherlock they're watching.

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Wogma Review

For starters, let's set aside the fact that Kaushik Ghatak's Samrat & Co is a recreation of a Sherlock Holmes-esque character, in India - an absolute travesty of a recreation at that. No, first let's talk about the film as an independent cinematic work, a murder mystery thrust into the hands of a super detective.

Mumbai-based celebrity detective, the eponymous Samrat, receives a strange case from a pretty young lady, a case that prompts him to travel with her to Shimla. Ultimately, a series of murders unfold, as Samrat races against time to connect the clues strewn across his path and solve the case.

Unfortunately, what we're served through this plot (that's anyway older than the hills the film is set in,) is a succession of rather juvenile 'mysterious' circumstances and events which shouldn't challenge a schoolboy, much less a supposed ace detective who can accurately guess a person's life history within minutes of meeting them.

Predictably laden with red herrings galore, the film tries too hard to be clever, but falls flat because the writers either underestimated the audience, or over-estimated themselves. Big work is made of silly substitution cipher codes and clues as simple as A-B-C.

The tangled mess of a screenplay was bad enough, but what makes matters worse is that most of the film is shot against a chroma background, with computer-generated scenery added later. It gives the film an fake look throughout; a pity because setting the film in the hills gave the film a chance to be a visual treat, a chance that was squandered by the filmmakers.

Now let's get to the film's real crime - the attempted murder of Messrs Holmes and Watson. A mockery is made of these iconic literary characters, as their Indian counterparts Samrat and Chakradhar resort to showboating, buffoonery and general incompetence, while relegating common sense and propriety to some forgotten corner.

Rajeev Khandelwal, a fair performer otherwise, really overdoes the Sherlock, while the less said about the guy who plays Watson, the better. The supporting cast of the film is essentially an assortment of people over-acting and under-acting.

In an attempt to draw at least something positive from the film, one can say that it least it never drops its pace and might even keep you interested in its silliness at all times - you wonder how much harder will the makers of the film try. Hopefully, Samrat & Co will die a death with the film, and future filmmakers will think long and hard before creating such lightweight caricatures of characters who have enthralled so many generations.

This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Some violence and a hand-to-hand fight scene.
  • Language: Clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: An Indian Sherlock attempts to solve a series of murders.
  • General Look and Feel: Set in the hills but shot elsewhere, the setting often seems fake.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 2
  • Lead Actors: 2.5
  • Character Artists: 2
  • Dialogues: 1.5
  • Screenplay: 1.5
  • Music Director: 1.5
  • Lyrics: 2

Samrat & Co. - Trailer

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Comments (6)

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TimELiebe:

As a Sherlockian, Pradeep, I will probably give this a try anyway - and it's not as if Holmes has been done badly over here, too! (Throws a dart at a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch.)

I'd wondered if India had ever done a desi equivalent of Holmes and Watson - are there any better movies along these lines I should check out?

Pradeep:

@TimELiebe: Sherlock is my favourite fictional character of all time. I've read the complete collection over and over and over again. I don't mind adaptations, but this one was quite a travesty!

Off the top of my head there aren't very many good Holmes adaptations here. Can't think of any mediocre ones either. But have you ever watched an old TV series called Byomkesh Bakshi? Not quite Holmes, but definitely India's most famous on screen detective!

TimELiebe:

@Pradeep - no, I've never heard of BYOMKESH BAKSHI before just now. I'll see if I can't find DVDs of it over here w/English subs - thanks! :)

Swapnil:

@TimELiebe - Feluda movies might be of interest to you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feluda_in_film

TimELiebe:

Thanks, @Swapnil! :)

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, but I never get the e-mails that my comments have been replied to....

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 2.5
Story: 2.5
Lead Actors: 2.5
Character Artists: 2

Dialogues: 2
Screenplay: 2.5
Music Director: 0
Lyrics: 0

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