‘HIT’ review: Vishwak Sen is a force in this taut, intense investigative thriller

The screenplay and direction by Dr Sailesh Kolanu is impressive, apart from the editing by Garry BH.
‘HIT’ review: Vishwak Sen is a force in this taut, intense investigative thriller
‘HIT’ review: Vishwak Sen is a force in this taut, intense investigative thriller
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HIT is an investigative thriller and a textbook genre film that builds expectations and lives up to it right till the end. Bankrolled by Wall Poster Cinema (Nani and Prashanti Tipirneni), which also gave us the critically acclaimed Awe, HIT (Homicide Intervention Team) gives you the same crispness a movie-lover, especially one bred on criminal and investigative thrillers from around the world, would enjoy – taut, no-nonsense, and short. No wonder, too, because the movie was edited by Garry BH, who was also involved with Kshanam and Goodachari, two other path-breaking Telugu movies in the same genre.

HIT stars Vishwak Sen as Vikram, a sleuth who has anger management issues, pyrophobia and frequent panic attacks (as is the case with most genius criminal investigation protagonists – think Luther. They need their issues as character development). But five minutes into the movie we also know he is sharp, having solved two cases through sheer powers of observation, and has Sherlock-like knowledge.

Then starts the First Case when 18-year-old Preethi goes missing on the highway (this will make your stomach churn a bit, in light of the recent events in Hyderabad. Women can never be careful enough in this godforsaken world of predators and criminals). Vikram gets involved when his own girlfriend Neha (Ruhani), the investigating officer on the Preethi case, goes missing too. Then starts the hunt for clues.

Apart from the editing, the screenplay and direction by Dr Sailesh Kolanu is what impresses you. It is razor sharp and nuanced. In an investigative thriller, the devil is in the detail and the director makes sure that there aren’t too many loose ends. It was also wonderful to note that – unlike thrillers by amateurish writers – there isn’t divine intervention anywhere. Nothing happens fortuitously. No great clues fall in the lap of the team hunting for the clues – and they do search extensively, including soil samples, not just the regular fingerprints and DNA. From the disappearance of the 18-year-old to the disappearance of the cop investigating the same case to the final closure, everything happens because of a relentless detective chasing details. You have to understand here that it is not the perfect crime and that’s why one stupid mistake by the criminal, driven by greed, helps unravel the whole case.

Where HIT disappoints (only a tiny bit and that shouldn’t take away anything from the movie) is in the classical mistake which investigative thrillers by less experienced moviemakers often make – trying to build the suspense so much through evidence being struck down consistently that the audience, which likes being involved in the crime-solving, realise after the case is solved that there was no way they could have guessed it. That is because of new details that surface only in the end, with a new sub-plot emerging altogether. It would have helped if that was part of the story right from the beginning – that would have layered the screenplay further too. Compare this with say Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya, which does something similar, but in the second half lets you in on what probably could be going on.

Vishwak Sen impresses again with his screen presence. He is a natural and has good body language. His unexplained panic attacks and flashback show that this movie is being built for a sequel (yes, that’s a first in Telugu crime thrillers I guess!). If anything, Vishwak has to work on his diction, which in my opinion is accented, and not sophisticated enough to play the kind of roles that will surely come his way in the future. Ruhani doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie, apart from being intimate with Vishwak at various points. Maybe she’ll have a greater role to play in the sequel.

There is a lot to like about HIT; no-frills camera work and lighting in every frame by S Manikandan needs to be lauded. Melodrama is kept to a minimum, just like Vikram’s boss played by veteran actor, Bhanuchander, an understated but interesting presence in the script. The biggest plus for the movie is the surprise element in the evidences being garnered – they are not your usual tropes or clichés.

The attention to investigative procedures – the use of forensics, rulebook, etc., are good. Yes, things don’t happen so fast in real world, and no forensic team would like the amount of work Vikram makes them do in this movie, but it was nice to see the makers put in the thought process. Yes, Vishwak’s character goes overboard at times, and if not for his slightly patronising superior, wouldn’t be part of the scheme of things. But I guess most investigative thrillers do prefer their bad boy detectives, including the big daddy of all detectives, Sherlock. So, I guess we give the movie a pass here as well.

The movie also gently nudges us to introspect against valid social stereotypes, based on religion, culture and marital status, which is what good cinema should endeavour to do. HIT is not your regular family drama with 6 jokes, 3 songs and 4 fights along with an ample dose of megalomania and sexism. It moves well towards its goal, in a focused way, and there is never a boring moment. Add it to the spate of seriously good thrillers Telugu cinema has been producing in the last three to four years.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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