Rajkummar Rao's phenomenal act makes 'HIT: The First Case' worth-watching
HIT: The First Case arrived in theaters on Friday. Starring Rajkummar Rao and Sanya Malhotra, the mystery-thriller has been directed by Sailesh Kolanu, who also helmed the original Telugu film. The venture is a decent watch that works largely due to yet another knockout performance by Rao, who seems to have put his literal blood, sweat, and tears into this film. Here's our review.
The cynosure of the film is Vikram (Rao), a cop languishing under the pain of PTSD. The audience is made privy to his triggers but not to their origins, something that will likely be explored in the sequel. He gets embroiled in two interrelated kidnappings, one of which involves his girlfriend Neha (Malhotra). Eventually, the story follows his journey of unraveling the truth gradually.
There is no such thing as a bad Rajkummar Rao performance. Rising above the formulaic script, he consistently soars high and stays with you long after the credits roll. The parts that explore his vulnerability and dig into his traumatic past are exceptionally performed, so much so that you immerse yourself in his character within the first few minutes—despite barely knowing anything about him.
From his labored breathing to his shivering hands and fear-plastered face to penetrating gaze—Rao has hit all the right notes in this author-backed role. In his career's first intense action avatar, he also dazzles in an excellently choreographed and meticulously performed adrenaline-pumping chase sequence.
S Manikandan has breathed life into HIT with multiple shots of picturesque locations in Rajasthan. Even when the story turns slightly cookie-cutter, it still keeps you engrossed, complemented well by the background score that amps up the tension without which thrillers often lack gravitas. By the end, Rao isn't the only one using his gray cells to solve the kidnappings—the viewers do so too.
At various points, different characters are classified as suspects with the means and the motive, and that hooks the viewer in from the get-go. Moreover, just as you believe one suspect would be "the one," another one comes along to knock your socks off.
The whodunnit's entire brick-by-brick build-up is thrown out of the window due to a hazily written, enervated climax. HIT tries to tie the loose ends with an unfathomable ending that's difficult to digest, leading the final act to fall painfully flat. This, eventually, undoes the development of the rest of the movie and somewhat robs viewers of the closure they deserved.
The female lead, Sanya Malhotra, gets no meat to chew and is clearly an afterthought. Moreover, scene-to-scene remakes run the risk of being deemed lethargic for the viewers who watch both versions. HIT has taken some liberties vis-a-vis standard police procedural that'll raise some eyebrows.
HIT may not be in the same league as, say, Andhadhun or Drishyam, but it works nonetheless because of its expeditious screenplay, action sequences, and Rao's arresting performance. With its occasional non-linear narrative and flashbacks, HIT architects a promising case for itself, aided by fine performances by supporting actors like Dalip Tahil and Milind Gunaji. Miles ahead of the original, HIT gets 3/5 stars.