HIT: The First Case review: HITman Rajkummar Rao cracks the first case

Director Sailesh Kolanu doesn’t tinker much with the original plot thereby giving Bollywood a fine Hindi remake of his 2020 Telugu psychological, suspense thriller.

Rating: 3 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

Although, earlier, we had expressed our keen desire to watch the original Telugu film, we decided to abandon that pursuit- since we didn’t wish to miss out on the novelty of it’s Hindi remake. Quite a paradox! Don’t you think so?

Often these remakes tend to stay true to the original with just few tweaks here and there. Having the same director on board should ideally be an advantage. Sailesh Kolanu doesn’t tinker much with his original plot. He even chooses to have the same principal character names. What changes is the setting – from south to North India, and the murder motive.

We have inspector Vikram [Rajkummar Rao] from HIT [Homicide Investigation Team] investigating the missing complaint of a collegian, Preeti in Jaipur, Rajasthan. There are other challenges though with the officer trying to beat his inner demons – courtesy his troubled past. He suffers from PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Would such a cop be an ideal fit to solve such a case? It gets more complicated and personal after his colleague, girl friend Neha ]Sanya Malhotra], too, goes missing. The whodunnit saga has intrigue and mystery written all over it.

Those who’ve watched the original Telegu film will cry hoarse that Kolanu has simply translated his psychological, mystery thriller into Hindi. Often most Hindi remakes get lost in translation. Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey [2022] is among the recent disappointments. Without watching the original, we strongly felt that Solanu has done well to adapt his Telugu film in Hindi. It’s evident from its gripping screenplay [Solanu] and fine dialogues by Girish Kohli.

Apart from the suspense, what keeps the pot boiling is the flawless intense show by Rajkummar Rao. The man has put on some muscle to appeal to the masses. However, how many six-pack abs heroes add substance to their larger-than-life characters? Rao is happy to flex his biceps, but doesn’t get carried away by it. Be it his panic attacks, hallucinations or stern, impartial investigation, there is no drop in intensity. Yes, one will question whether such a character is fit to handle serious crime cases? But Sherlock Holmes is a happy sociopath. James Bond is still the best agent for the job despite his alcoholism, lust. Hope the masses too appreciate this virtuoso performance by Rao.

Script constrains limit the screen time for Sanya Malhotra but the young actress does a fine job within that space. Dalip Tahil, too, chips in with a commanding act as Shekhavat, the man who heads the HIT squad. Though, usually polite with his favorite officer Vikram, Shekhavat doesn’t forget to remind who is the boss in HIT. “Son, the rule book that you are talking about is prepared by me. Don’t cross your line”, a livid Shekhawat reprimands Vikram but in the confines of his cabin, that too the audience only seeing their silhouettes.

Director Solanu is mindful of no logic going for a toss in the investigations. This is often disregarded in many a Bollywood suspense thrillers. Vikram has his speculations but he doesn’t ignore science or logic in his probe. We realized that why polygraph, narco-analysis tests aren’t so reliable in the court of law.

Milind Gunaji makes a sincere effort to play a Rajasthani Muslim but the accent is not natural to the Maharashtrian. Similarly, Vaastav [1999] actor Sanjay Narvekar plays a Saxena, but doesn’t sound anything like a North Indian.

The first half is largely gripping with intense performances by the leading cast. However, Neha going missing two months after Preethi’s disappearance arrives on the screen barely two minutes after Preethi’s parents file a missing complaint. It doesn’t look great edit. Maybe a creative call by Solanu to shorten the Hindi remake by a few minutes.

The second half loses bit of steam and that is largely down due to the average show by the key people linked to the alleged crimes. The crime motive in the remake differs from the original. We were surprised when the director told us that us he’d kept this motive [in the Hindi film] in his first draft, but had to change it for the original Telugu film keeping the local sensibilities in mind. While the film tries to support all passions, but the dangerous output works contrary to the desired message. The motive in the Telugu film was more believable.

No one likes moral policing, sexism. Preethi’s college professor mocking the missing girl for her skimpy clothes might not be cheered by the feminists. But it is warranted in a film that is set in Rajasthan, a conservative state that is also notorious for crimes against women.

After holding great promise, HIT: The First Case slightly loses the grip in the final 30 minutes. However, there is one man standing tall amidst the ruins – Rajkummar Rao. The other consistent aspect of the film is its breathtaking cinematography by S. Manikandan. It’s hard to recollect any cinematographer capturing the beauty of Jaipur through the day and night in such immersive fashion. HIT: The First Case [2022] shines for its visual storytelling, color. Manikandan proves visual art is not limited to any genre. The original background music by John Stewart Eduri is equally mesmerizing.

The couple of songs are fairly decent but they could have been done away it. But a Bollywood thriller too has to abide the odd formulaic tropes. The few pleasant songs by composer Mithoon are better than having any average item number.

The comparative analysis with the Telugu film will follow in due course of time. And while the Hindi remake has its few cons, it is the brilliance of Rajkummar Rao that could turn HIT: The First Case into a success.

Watch the trailer below.


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