A crime drama thriller that revolves around the death of a rich landlord. Raat Akeli Hai sails through an ocean of conundrums which subsequently unfolds as the story proceeds.
TW: Mention of sexual abuse, rape, and violence
Starring the most admired actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte in the lead roles, Raat Akeli Hai shines as the “#1 in India Today”. The 2.5 hours movie is a slow burner with an unexpected twist in the climax. Viewers will surely be astounded by the ambit of the storyline. However, it does not satisfactorily engage them as it possesses a usual twisted murder plot only presented in a very creative manner highlighting the characters of the plot. The movie begins with a flashback taking us five years prior to present which is eventually revealed as a key lead to hunting the murderer who is exposed at the dramatic climax of the movie.
The script is very well covered by the director Honey Trehan, who brilliantly managed to highlight the plight of the women characters who were sexually abused by the late landlord, without the inclusion of a single sexually explicit sequence. In an era of the so-called “modernized” cinema where we see intimate scenes highlighted to show erroneous characters or intimacy between characters, Raat Akeli Hai stands out of the crowd with zero triggering or erotic content. The extremely appreciable costume which aptly describes and differentiates the characters of the same house is an indication of veritable planning and ideas. The movie can impress any viewer with its captivating shots that can provoke misleading thoughts and at the same time reveal subtle hints.
Even though the plot seemingly revolves around the influential family of the rich landlord, Radha (played by Radhika Apte) and Inspector Jatil Yadav (played by Nawazuddin Sidiqqui) are the two poles that join the dots of the movie. It is really depressing to see that other characters have been given only short screen presence; especially those played by Shweta Tripathi, Shivani Raghuvanshi and Nishant Dahiya. The story slowly appears to be unraveling the importance and background storyline of each character; however, it does not happen until its culmination.
The story flashes the spotlight on the proficient female characters that are in the plot who are unfortunately subdued as they are crushed under the circumvention around Inspector Jatil Yadav. He belongs to a middle-class family and is the depiction of “woke” Indian men who are unfortunately blinded by the scores of existential societal norms. Inspector, who is portrayed as the saviour and is sympathetic towards women, seems to propagate notions of “the ideal woman,” who is “dikhne mein teek thak” (average looking) and “susheel”(soft-spoken). His routine of applying fairness cream is the depiction of men who are a victim of the patriarchal society that demands them to be perfect in all ways. The hard-working inspector also abuses Radha whom he is secretly falling for, which is evidence of an utterly toxic behavioural pattern.
Raat Akeli Hai houses Radha, Karuna, and Vasudha along with other female characters are women who are overburdened by the shackles of patriarchy and silenced by the hegemonic male characters. Radha who calls herself a “bazaari aurat” (whore) knowingly disregards her existence as if she had lost hopes in life. Karuna (Shweta Tripathi), a helpless pregnant homemaker is undermined by her husband who is overpowering and does not fail to leverage his wife according to his expectations. Vasudha (Shivani Raghuvanshi) is a complicated character whose reality is not revealed until the end; this makes her character important as she will mostly be ignored throughout the movie. Mr Yadav’s mother and Pramila Singh are those women from the elder generation whose interests lie solely within the boundaries of social standards and are accustomed to following them as if it was a directive.
The attempt to break the conventional ideology of rape culture is clearly visible in this movie. It aims to criminalize the culprit and destroy their offensive nature. The movie also ingeniously binds the concepts of power politics and the dominance of power over truth and justice. Although the political leader’s influence is evident, the climax does not forget to make him confess and accept the sin. The multiple instances of rape, abuse and violence have also been cleverly drafted to point out the exact ray of thought without blemishing it with typical filmy effects.
Overall the movie is quite entertaining in terms of triggering anger and prompting hints from the audience. Even though it highlights the storyline, at some point, it conceals it with the emotional turmoil that is caused by the evolving relationship between Radha and the Inspector.
Streaming on Netflix, Raat Akeli Hai is a must watch due to the everlasting impressions the characters make by instigating the viewer with an ache as each of them has their fair share of suspense hidden in their eyes, words, and actions.
Feature Image Credits: Feminism In India