Deadline: Sirf 24 Ghante. Director: Tanveer Khan. Players: Rajit Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Sandhya Mridul. DVD release.
After making a minor splash with his 9/11 tale Madhoshi three years ago, Tanveer Khan, erstwhile better known as a writer (Ishq, Raja) has moved up to bigger and better things quite nicely. With a script that brings to mind better Hollywood one-family-vs.-an-indifferent-bureaucracy dramas (most notably the biting social commentary John Q), director Khan’s unsettling thriller is both well made and noteworthy.
After establishing quickly that no one is what they seem to be, director Khan draws together two unlikely couples in a web of revenge, intrigue, and suspense. An immensely successful doctor (Kapoor) and his wife (Sen Sharma) are thrown into turmoil when their young daughter is kidnapped for ransom. That the kidnappers are another married couple (Irrfan Khan, Mridul), who, but for lower bank balance, are down market political—but not economic—equals to the rich doctor and his wife makes the kidnapping all the more disconcerting.
Director Khan and the ensemble cast make all this chillingly convincing. Kapoor’s superstar doctor is like Icarus flying ever higher and closer to the sun. Irrfan Khan’s nervous kidnapper is all the more dangerous because he pretends to have nothing to lose, while Sen Sharma—one of the most gifted actors in her generation—makes a believable doctor’s wife on the verge of hysteria.
The reasons why an attractive, seemingly well-educated couple turns to kidnapping, while perplexing on its surface, taps into a powerful global undercurrent of the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.Deadline is that rare small-budget film that unflinchingly, and for the right reasons, takes bloody, thought-provoking punches at at least half-a-dozen contemporary moral dilemmas.