Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996): Sleepless in the city of Bombay

There are some movies which get a cult following, but probably do not receive much adulation during its time of release. Though Sudhir Mishra’s Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin is still talked about, I still feel that the film has not got the love it deserves. Even though I have watched the film in bits and parts earlier, now thanks to the lockdown I watched this film again on Amazon Prime. The noir film might seem normal now, but back in those days it was supposed to be path breaking.

The film traces the journey of Aditya (Nirmal Pandey) who works in an advertising firm and is married to Pooja (Tara Deshpande) and is having an affair with Malavika (Smriti Mishra).  Pooja discovers the infidelity accidentally and throws him out of the house.  The ordeal for Aditya does not end, it is just the beginning for him. Aditya in a moment of rage slaps Ramanbhai (Ashish Vidyarthi) the dreaded don of Bombay over a scuffle. 

Ramanbhai and his men are on now on a hunt to find Aditya, while Vilas (Saurabh Shukla) the erstwhile friend of Ramanbhai is out to avenge the murder of his wife and kill Ramanbhai

Adding to this confusion, we have a cop (Ganesh Yadav) who switches loyalty in less than a blink of an eye, a widower who is trigger happy and a best friend who is helping for an ulterior motive.

The main aspect of the film which works in its favour is the screenplay, which is credited to Sudhir Mishra, Nikhil Advani & Shivkumar Subramaniam.

You don’t get to see screwball comedies in India often and there have been attempts like Delhi Belly, but no movie has achieved what Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin does.

The biggest grouse of mine with this film is Nirmal Pandey. He cannot shoulder the film on his own,  especially when the film is filled with talented actors like Kishore Kadam, Sandeep Kulkarni to name a few.

Another factor is the mandatory song and dance which comes in the film, barring one song nothing registers on your mind and you fast forward the songs.

What works for the film is the racy screenplay, with twists and turns which tests the loyalty of the audience and makes you root for different characters at different points of the story. It does not crucify any character; it just plays out just as it would in our life where everyone is desperate to survive and move on.

This till date for me remains Sudhir Mishra’s best film, a film with ambition and audacity to entertain us.

The film is streaming on Amazon Prime with English subtitles.

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