It isn’t often that you get an innovative but no-frills crime thriller in Sandalwood. So, there is enough in the first half of Attempt to Murder to pique one’s interest.
Picking up on a real life incident in which a woman was hacked in a Bengaluru ATM some years ago, writer and director Amar tries to weave a web of stories around this shocking crime. The film follows a police investigator (Vinay) and a journalist (Hemalatha), as they try to track down the attacker more than two years after the ATM attack. Meanwhile, there’s also a young cab driver (Chandu Gowda), who’s found love and happiness with a software engineer (Shobhitha). All of these lives dovetail around the notorious crime that has shocked a city.
Director Amar tries to keep the film firmly grounded in a realistic narrative. So, to the film’s credit, there are no bombastic entry scenes for our heroes, no over-the-top fights in which one man fells a dozen baddies with a single blow, no distracting item numbers and the like. Instead, Attempt to Murder tries to stay focused on the story, sticking only to the most necessary narrative moments in the film. Even the custodial violence, an inevitable mainstay in Kannada films these days, is kept to a minimum, and the cops are shown carrying out a proper investigation. The few scenes that the director tries to play up with stylised camera angles and visual effects don’t feel overdone.
The difficulty with the film, however, is the confusion in the storyline. The three story strands in the film feel like they’ve been artificially forced together, with the thread following Hemalatha’s character Priya feeling the weakest. The strand involving Chandu and Shobhitha also brings in a couple of song sequences that, while melodious and enjoyable in themselves, take too much attention away from the main plot of the film. And the thriller portion involving the young couple seems too unconnected to the rest of the narrative. These narrative difficulties are somewhat compounded by the newcomer actors, who are earnest but rough around the edges in their portrayals.
The film also struggles in vain to escape from some of the obvious traps that dog other films of this genre. So, like many others before it, Attempt to Murder confuses psychopathy with monstrosity, casting the murderer in the mould of a crazed madman filled with bloodlust. And the psychological explanation it provides for his murderous instincts is flimsy and lacking conviction.
It’s also troubling how much the film’s various characters thirst for the killer to receive a violent death. With the director choosing to end the film with the announcement of a sequel, we’re left wondering just what’s going to happen to this desire for retaliatory violence. There are also some completely unnecessary scenes in the film, including a conversation between two men about women’s fidelity and a scene featuring a stereotyped caricature of an effeminate man, which leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Despite these problems, Attempt to Murder could be an interesting watch if you’re looking for something slightly different from the mainstream masala film.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.