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Monica, O My Darling review: Huma Qureshi, Rajkummar Rao & Radhika Apte are a shady bunch we love to hate

If the term 'nutjob' had a face, Monica, O My Darling would definitely be it. 

4/5rating
Monica, O My Darling review: Huma Qureshi, Rajkummar Rao & Radhika Apte are a shady bunch we love to hate
Rajkummar rao, Huma Qureshi and Sikandar Kher in Monica, Oh My Darling
  • Pallabi Dey Purkayastha

Last Updated: 10.07 AM, Nov 11, 2022

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STORY: Stringing along the lines of neo-noir-meets-thriller, Monica, O My Darling is everything that the experimental leg of the Hindi film industry stands for—bold, brash, and stomach-hurting-level funny. Vasan Bala; powerless to his love for movies, uses an old and iconic film to make a new one. 

REVIEW: Love may seldom follow lust but when has that forbidden men from giving in to its trappings? This very idea, and that absolutely terrifying human quality called greed, form the backbone of Netflix's neo noir-thriller comedy Monica, O My Darling. 

Visibly hungry for 'hatke cinema', both director Vasan Bala and writer Yogesh Chandekar (who's also written the fabulous Andhadhun), conjure up some of the wackiest of situations and develop the most troubled of people you have encountered on screen for this roller coaster of a ride. If the term 'nutjob' had a face, Monica ... would definitely be it. 

Hot, emancipated and sexually unshackled, Monica Machado (Huma Qureshi) starts a steamy affair with lottery winner—metaphorcially speaking—Jayant Arkhedkar (Rajkummar Rao) from her office. Jayant is sensitive towards his own fragile feelings and reasonably dark childhood but oblivious to the feelings of those closest to him: an emotionally stoic Nikki (Akansha Ranjan Kapoor) who claims to love him for being 'different'. "Good that f*cker died. He deserved it," she flat-out declares at her brother Nishikant's (Sikandar Kher) funeral. And f*ckers they all are!

Her bankrolling father Mr. Adhikari is, too, wrapped around Jayant's selfish fingers for, again, being 'different'. But Monica is no trust-fund kid and needs no saving (extra .5 stars for her carefully chosen surname), just 'savings' will do. In a nutshell, her dating history involes three men, one baby and a father who doesn't want to be a father. Typical 'affair' affair? Nope. Monica, O My darling is a movie that is right up Quentin Tarantino's alley, only less gore and more desi in tonality and treatment. 

The film, underneath all that wit and humour, is essentially a satire: a silent slap on those constituting the creme crowd of our society, the so-called top tier, who perceive the less fortunate as just faceless means to their never-ending ends. 

Vasan Bala's penchant for perfection and attention to intricate details is both a hit and a miss in the film. Hit because, as a thriller, there are no dull moments and miss because, as a dark comedy, the script relies heavily on the brilliantly shot settings (captured by Swapnil S. Sonawane) and the next chain of events to follow, at times leaving the characters behind. 

The film's filled with enticing characters, and actors that treat them justly in an otherwise unjust world of Monica... Huma, as the vivacious beauty, is both a sinner and has been sinned against. Subtly and graciously, her Monica highlights the deep-seated patriarchal mindset that is prevalent even amidst the upper class. Murder followed by blackmail? Must be a woman's job, as it always goes. Rajkummar Rao's Jayant is a nervous ball of energy who has the heart of a small towner but the mind of a big corporate shark. Either way, Rao is marvelous to watch as this deeply flawed man. Interestingly, antagonist Sikander Kher embodies the rich-kid syndrome to a T: expensive clothes, condescending remarks, hating on the world while secrectly waiting for the father's money to come down to him, who he absolutely hates. 

Radhika Apte comes in as ACP Naidu and gives the film a face-lift (you know, metaphorically) just when the narrative starts to lose its initial sheen. She is a saver, and a keeper for Netflix and this film. Apte's effortless comic timing, and borderline animosity with Rao's character, is what makes the second half of the film enthralling. 

Radhika Apte is quirky as ACP Naidu in he movie
Radhika Apte is quirky as ACP Naidu in he movie

Monica, O My Darling is a fitting response to those who say Bollywood cannot do neo-noir right. At them, Nikki would possibly bark, "F*ck you!"

VERDICT: If you are a fan of dark comedy and noir-esque crime thrillers, this should be a delightful watch for you. Always keeps you guessing, and has a climax that may not satiate the movie lover in you, but the entire film more than makes up for those two underwhelming minutes. 

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