Manoj Bajpayee is clearly on a roll. One outing after another, he has been delivering performances that are different from each other and are getting noticed by one and all. From The Family Man to Silence… Can You Hear It to Ray and now Dial 100, he has been visibly having a lot of fun in front of the camera. While box office comes with its own different dynamics, the OTT platform is allowing him freedom to further try out newer things, and that too at a rapid pace, something which is apparent in the 100 minute original film that has been made for ZEE5.
Set at a police helpline center, Dial 100 comes straight to the point. A mystery woman [Neena Gupta] calls specifically for a cop [Manoj Bajpayee], even as the man is trying to cope up with situation at home where his wife [Sakshi Tanwar] is struggling to discipline their 18 year old son who has a past of his own. As was apparent in the promo itself, all these lives are intertwined, something that builds up the drama, only to lead to a finale which has an unconventional climax, though led by some predictable plot twists.
Though the opening of the film is straight forward, one somehow doesn’t quite sense the kind of urgency that would have led to certain edge of the seat moments. You know that Neena Gupta would make life tough for Manoj Bajpayee and Sakshi Tanwar but it takes a while before all hell breaks lose. Yes, the middle portions turn out to be interesting, especially when the whole hacking block unfolds at the helpline center. These are the portions where Manoj Bajpayee’s prowess with pathos coupled with sarcasm are in full force.
This is the reason why the scene involving the two ladies are relatively less impactful in comparison. (Spoilers ahead) It seems rather unrealistic that a woman who is so cautious about her son would allow a complete stranger to enter her house. Also, the mole at the helpline center is visible in the very first appearance, and that too not when not even a word has been uttered. No wonder, when director Rensil D’Souza dedicates a whole scene to the character, it turns out to be a clear giveaway.
Nonetheless, barring such portions, Dial 100 stays true to its core and once the viewer is allowed to glance outside the claustrophobic set up of the helpline center and step on the road, there is no looking back. Some of the best sequences are reserved for the outdoors, especially when Manoj Bajpayee guides his son to come out of the tricky situation. The way he passes on the instructions from the phone and brings his cop experience into place is exciting. No wonder, after a build up like this, a thumping climax would have been the icing on the cake.
The good part is that the duration of Dial 100 is just 100 minutes and hence there is something happening every minute. As a viewer, you are not tempted to pause the film or check into the cell-phone, which is a good plus point. Moreover, the film has been produced like a feature film instead of being a controlled affair which is usually associated with an OTT film. As a family film with just a cuss word or two and no nudity/violence thrown in, this film can be given a comfortable watch, especially with Manoj Bajpayee making sure that you are glued on.