Trigger Warning: This is a review of the film ‘Neeyat’ and it mentions suicide.
Neeyat directed by Anu Menon consists of two striking themes. While the first story roams around the mysterious murder of an exiled billionaire Ashish Kapoor (Ram Kapoor) and the flip-flop of worldly greed, criminal conspiracy and murky intentions of becoming rich by hook or by crook, the second least visible theme rocks the screen with LGBTQ+ representation and the wit of sharp-minded female-lead, making the movie significant enough to snatch some stares. The screenplay by Anu Menon, Giryani Dhayani, Advaita Kala and Priya Venkataraman with a loose-knitted climax turns Neeyat into quite a predictable Bollywood thriller, still a thin thread of suspense is palpable till the end.
Neeyat: Money and lust with a slice of patriarchy
Depicting greed, conspiracy and crime in upper-class society, the film begins with a weather forecast in a majestic Scottish Villa amid the topsy-turvy preparations for the birthday celebration of exiled billionaire Mr Ashish Kapoor, who has borrowed 20,000 crores from Indian banks and escaped away. Apart from being responsible for the financial breakdown of his employees and eight suicides, he is also a murderer who killed his wife to quench his thirst for power and position.
Crossing lines with ex-girlfriend Noor Soori (Dipannita Sharma) while dating a much younger woman Lisa (Shahana Goswami), Ashish is a picture-perfect example of grabbing women through the corrupt use of money and status of being in a high-class patriarchal set-up.
In the next scenario, Ashish’s fake declaration of surrender and transmission of assets to the government unconsciously evokes a hidden criminal conspiracy among the well-wishers who linger around for their materialistic motives. After a fleeting brief introduction of the guests, the story catches pace with the mysterious murder of Ashish Kapoor in the presence of CBI officer Meera Rao, followed by a connected chain of 3 other assassinations.
LGBTQ+ representation and the idea of revenge
The secret citizen-hero Mira Rao (Vidya Balan) in the cloak of a CBI officer solves the murder mystery of a fugitive banished billionaire and returns the hogged money back to the Indian government. The storyline crosses the bigotry streak in the social diaspora with queer representation and a strong female lead.
The entry of the genius Meera Rao (Vidhya Balan) not only challenges the monopoly of men in detective roles but also sets an example of a female citizen-hero. She breaks the gender barriers as the lesbian lover of Devyani, an employee who dies by suicide after the financial bankruptcy and humiliation caused by A. K. Industries. In a time of prevalent vicious and destructive trends of taking revenge, she picks up a positively courageous path, tracing murder mysteries. After Meera and Devyani, Jimmy Mistry (Rahul Bose), the lover and brother-in-law of Ashish Kapoor is another LGBTQ+ presence in the second row.
The sovereignty of wit without bars
Behaving like a human encyclopedia, the female lead CBI officer Meera keeps a sharp record of the body language and facial expressions of the characters in order to track the truth. Whenever Ashish fakes pain or pleasure, she spots reality in seconds. As a self-sufficient woman with activated five senses, she cracks the secret of the suitcase box.
Breaking the premeditated norms of misinterpreting the wisdom of a woman, Meera shows up how physical strength or the power of money and rank can never establish the supremacy of a particular gender.
Ashish addressing her as a “robot” gives a glimpse of how brave and sharp women with a clear vision and exceptional wit get underestimated and miscalculated at times.
The pursuit of a suitcase in the chauvinist labyrinth
The entwined tale of greed shells out the layers of human relationships in the modern era. Amidst the misty smoke of black motives, disbelief, greed, conspiracy and deceit, Meera Rao is the only one with the striking flame of good motives, love and a sense of service.
Soon after the murder of Ashish Kapoor, everyone becomes part of the criminal conspiracy in order to grab the suitcase with significant papers. While fleeing with the suitcase, the event manager Tanveer (Danesh Rizvi) gets killed by Ashish’s friend Sanjay Soori (Neeraj Kabi), followed by an accidental murder of Sanjay by Ashish’s faithful assistant Key Patel (Amrita Puri). In the very next segment, Key gets murdered by Ashish’s sister Zara (Niki Aneja Walia), a mind reader, card-reader lady who decodes the fortune-puzzles.
Ashish’s girlfriend Lisa (Shahana Goswami) with her greedy obsession over the diamond necklace and weird attempts to hide her real age depicts how women in a chauvinist system are limited through the imposed ideas of self-worth and beauty, while Ashish’s ex-girlfriend Noor Soori (Dipannita Sharma) and her extramarital partner trying to have a child unveils the abhorrent conformist social-pressures of owning motherhood.
In the queue of other prominent characters, Ashish’s drug-addict son Rayan Kapoor (Shashank Arora) with his journalist girlfriend Gigi (Prajakta Koli), sheds light on how the poles apart social- classes shape the related wires of individual and collective liability.
The flames of relevance in Neeyat
Neeyat flares with the filaments of political relevance, as currently, India is dealing with several such exiled billionaires who have looted the hard-earned money of the common public. Reminding Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksui, Neerav Modi and many more, the story underlines the mammoth threats to the financial setting of a developing country like India.
In a similar way, the ongoing battles to validate same-sex marriages and incessant incidents of gender discrimination across the nation add extra appeal to the narrative.
The colours and melody-notes
The black, grey and blue colours nail the cinematic palette, perfectly pairing with the cold-blooded deadly ambience. The lion sculpture before the very first glimpse of Meera is used as an emblematic depiction of courage while the fractions of fog floating over the castle can be seen as a portrayal of suspense to spice up the artistic charm.
However, the film, Neeyat, produced by Vikram Malhotra, released on 7th July 2023 is a box-office flop but taking note of the least visible angles, it can get categorised as a one-time watch.