No need for a magnifying glass to locate its slips – The New Indian Express
Express press service
The devil is in the details. Storytelling too. Finding the culprit in a thriller is like peeling an onion. If not watery, the eyes should widen in revelation. It’s a magic trick. The viewer is engrossed in walking a cold path overlooking the shortest road ahead. This is where the ‘Forensic’ problem begins. While trying to overtake the audience at every turn, he doesn’t realize his tumble.
Welcome to misty Mussoorie, where finding a little girl’s body is just another downpour. Meet Johnny Khanna (played too enthusiastically by Vikrant Massey), a forensic expert who likes to walk around a crime scene and sing nursery rhymes (Johnny, Johnny…) to corpses and the living until that they die of gnashing their teeth. “But it’s the best,” a cop says as a prelude to the character’s introduction.
Johnny is a budding Karamchand who might be better off as Inspector Jacques Clouseau from The Pink Panther. He reports to Megha Sharma about Radhika, the case officer with whom he has a past. The case? Young girls are murdered on their birthday in the small town of Mussoorie. The past? They separated. Johnny and Megha also share a niece (his brother married his sister) and I felt like drawing a family tree.
There’s something else to capturing the flavor of where the crime is happening. In “Memories of Murder” (2003) by Bong Joon-Ho, South Korea comes to life in its rice fields. “This place is like someone’s memory of a city, and the memory fades,” ruminates Rust Cohle in HBO’s “True Detective” (2014). Even the Malayalam original ‘Forensic’ (2020), starring Tovino Thomas and Mamta Mohandas, feels at home in its verdant landscape. The Hindi version, however, is “misplaced”. He wants to jump on the bandwagon of a scenic mountain thriller, but that’s about it. What do we know about Mussoorie? “It’s a small town,” says a policeman during an office joke. “Even if you buy an underwear here, the neighbor will get to know its color.” This is true for all small towns, I hope not.
At first, Forensic puts a lot of doors to open, but he just knocks on them and nothing rings. In one scene, Johnny deduces that the killer is no more than four to five feet tall. Regular viewers of crime thrillers always expect the worst of humanity. The obvious conclusion is that the murderer is a child. “Could it be a dwarf?” asks a cop and I expected some flabbergasted looks. What I got was CCTV footage showing a dwarf sweeper near the crime scene and a wild goose hunt in a dwarf settlement. All for a little comic relief.
The relationships between the characters are conveniently unraveled through flashbacks. Original Malayalam aces here. His characters are defined by traits and flashbacks are rare. The Hindi version takes the pulp and leaves the juice behind. In one particular sequence in the original, an eyewitness, while clandestinely removing a “comrades” flag, spots the accused. A little detail like this and the scene rises with the political context. In the Hindi “Forensic”, the eyewitness is a ragpicker.
Towards the end, “Forensic” begins to remember shots he missed. Johnny and Megha are suspended. The evidence board is set up, the colored wires are out, and the victim’s Polaroids are pinned. A post-it even says “Who’s the killer?” By the time the climax arrives, I thought, does this count?