The release of a suspense thriller is a rare occurrence in the Hindi Film Industry. 'Kahaani' (2012) was one of the best films of the year 2012 but even the critical and commercial success of that film did not inspire many filmmakers to explore this genre. There have seen a few films that have made a mark, the last one being 'Ittefaq' (2017) but there is a dearth of storytellers tapping into this genre. Mukul Abhyankar, who has several hit television shows to his credit as a director, made 'Missing', his debut feature film way back in 2015 but the film managed to hit theatres this week.
Sushant (Manoj Bajpayee) and Aparna (Tabu) are a married couple with a three year old daughter Titli. The three of them arrive in Mauritius on a work-cum-leisure trip. Though Sushant had initially booked a single room in a hotel, he gets it upgraded to a suite upon reaching there. Sushant goes out of the hotel late in the night to have dinner leaving Aparna and Titli in the hotel room. Aparna tries to help Titli sleep by singing a lullaby. After Sushant comes back, the couple make love to each other. In the morning, Aparna wakes up to find Titli missing from their room. Along with Sushant, he looks around the hotel premises but Titli is nowhere to be found.
Mukul Abhyankar, who has also written the script, provides the viewers with surprises with jolt but only sporadically. He also drops sufficiently easy hints for the viewers to guess the suspense before the big reveal takes place in the climax. The writer-director seeks inspiration from Hollywood films and even a few Hindi films (revealing the names of those films would give you a fair idea about the plot of the film and hence, would act as a spoiler). There is barely any novelty factor in this film which has been designed as a suspense thriller. Even the ones, who could not crack the suspense earlier, would be underwhelmed by the way it pans out. Mukul handles certain sequences rather well. The revelation about Sushant's family has been done very nicely. However, there just about a few sparks in a film that largely disappoints. It used familiar tropes like the presence of a suspicious character who is, obviously, not the culprit and over-dependence on background score to underline every emotion and happening and does not bring anything new to the table.
Another thing that acts as a sore thumb are the dialogues. The film has some of the cheesiest lines one has heard in a Hindi film in a long time. In recent times, Milap Zaveri is guilty of writing some obnoxious lines for 'Hate Story IV' but some of the dialogues, despite being overly dramatic, were good too. In one of the scenes, when Sushant and Aparna are looking for their daughter, a guest in the hotel tells them in a jocular manner "uska naam Titili hai na, titli ki tarah udte udte kahin chali gayi hogi". One thought such dialogues are written only for bad shows on Indian television.
If the fact that he plays a poorly written character was not bad enough, Manoj Bajpayee goes over the top in several scenes. Tabu, too, is saddled with a character that is not worthy of her talent. Annu Kapoor gets some good moments as the Mauritian based police officer. Rajesh Jais and Ashu Sharma, playing his associates, are very competent. Kali Prasad leaves a mark despite getting a stereotypical character.
'Missing' does a big disservice to a genre which is underexplored in the Hindi film Industry. A couple of well-made films that keep the audience at the edge of their seats is what the industry need to churn out to give this genre a boost. Films like 'Missing' are not going to help the cause.