Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Sergeant which is now streaming on Jio Cinema. The manner in which Jio Cinema is releasing content not only makes it hard to stay updated but it is also slightly unfair on content that is being released. While it is great to release the content for free, and serving the viewers freshly brewed content everyday, it also becomes confusing from a user standpoint on which content to opt for. As per me, if the content is better planned and promoted, the word of mouth would be a far bigger factor in attracting the viewers to the promising OTT platform. Just a food for thought there!
One of the reasons why I was looking forward to watching Sergeant was the prowess of Randeep Hooda who is such a gem of an actor. His performances have consistently been excellent and I still feel that filmmakers could still go deeper in tapping into his potential as an actor. While the trailer of Sergeant wasn’t quite cut well, owing to the bulk releases that Jio Cinema has been targeting, I still had my hopes pinned up on Sergeant. So then does Sergeant manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Set in London, Sergeant follows the story of a police officer suffering from depression following an accident post which he is determined to solve a pending case against all odds. The story here is niche with its writing and quite understated as a thriller. While the writing pertaining to strictly the case might be one-dimensional, it is the portrayal of depression by getting into the psyche of the individual that is truly impressive and the soul of the film. The screenplay standing at about a 100 minutes is a slow burner and moves at a leisurely pace. But if you do have patience to sit through it, there are a few rewards to be had.
The drama does unfold like a giant jigsaw puzzle wherein you are introduced to the protagonist who is undergoing a trial for negligency. This, while he has lost a foot after an accident on duty. Through flashes of conversations and a brief flashback, you get to know that the cops have been investigating the murder of a girl, a case that still remains unsolved. And while this may sound like a standard whodunnit, the writers choose to focus majorly on the character of the protagonist through multiple cobwebs in his head, some related to his injury, and some related to his past.
The proceedings are slow paced and it does require patience to sit through the drama. The twists and turns are also subtle and understated(perhaps a little too understated at times as opposed to being pronounced) so much so that you need to be fully attentive at the unfolding drama. Because there isn’t a tight hook on the narrative(I suppose deliberately so), the writers demand that you pay attention to the details through the various conversations that take place. This, while the gloomy setting of London acts as a perfect mood setter for this subtly captivating drama.
One of the flaws that I noticed was in the editing of the film. The editing here did give an impression of a garbled narrative almost as if the writer wanted us to give us a glimpse into the erratic mind of the protagonist. This would have worked perfectly had there been a finale twist related to the psyche of the protagonist(to be fair there was a subtle hint at it). But that twist did not quite arrive and so I was left underwhelmed by the final act which was simplistic and did not have much meat. It was important for the editing to be in sync with the unfolding drama which wasn’t quite the case. Another minor flaw was that some of the major events in the film were so understated that they ran the risk of being overlooked. But having said that, the screenplay here still has plenty of moments to keep you invested in what was also a niche in many ways.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but you do need to pay attention to the lines to ensure that no detail is being missed out on. The music and BGM ought to have been better. It was just too flat to evoke any sort of emotions. Perhaps a haunting soundtrack could actually have been the theme for the film! The cinematography with the gloomy colour grading captures the vibe and mood of the drama perfectly. Director Prawaal Raman does a pretty good job by keeping things understated. The only issue being that at times the drama was far too understated to have an impact.
The performances are quite good here. Daphne Alexander as Amy has her moments to shine. Perhaps her character needed a little more screen time in either of the flashback sequences. Sapna Pabbi as Monica is impressive in a job well done. Arun Govil is incredibly good here despite a very limited screen time. Adil Hussain as Haider is wonderfully restrained although I did feel his character could have been furthef enhanced had the makers opted for a different route with the storytelling. Randeep Hooda is a phenomenal actor and as Nikhil he is literally the soul of the film. His character had layers beneath layers with unsaid complexities and he is so nuanced with his performance here. This was indeed an acting masterclass of the highest order and I urge all budding actors(even others) to study his mannerisms which were so beautifully crafted.
Sergeant is a niche and an understated thriller with outstanding performances that can be watched once. If slow burners are your thing, give this a try! Available on Jio Cinema.