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Now that looks like a real female cop – Beyond Bollywood

Rucha Inamdar looks very promising in her intense cop avatar. Covid-19, hip hop element adds a fresh layer to the genre. Acclaimed artistes Raghubir Yadav, Rajesh Sharma, Santosh Juvekar’s presence augurs well for director Pratik Moitro’s murder mystery.

Rucha Inamdar in Minus 31 – The Nagpur Files [2023]

By Mayur Lookhar

Never judge a book by its cover or a film by its trailer. Minus stars, a murder mystery is still appealing to the target audience. All that they want is a thrilling, suspenseful film. 

Unheralded filmmaker Pratik Moitra, his sister Charulata Maitra are coming up with a uniquely titled film called Minus 31 – The Nagpur Files.  The ‘file’ mention naturally got us curious whether this is in any The Tashkent or The Kashmir Files mode? The file is purely fiction as the siblings have combined to dole out a murder mystery.  The title is very creative. 31 is the RTO Code of Nagpur. The minus is in reference to the murdered entity, and perhaps also striking out one from the list of suspects.

Dayanand Pandey [Rajesh Sharma], an influential figure in Nagpur is murdered. After the initial investigation, the needle of suspicion falls on one hustling rapper Preksha [Nisha]. She has gone missing and this all the more makes the investigating officer [played by Rucha Inamdar] hunt for her.  Preksha clearly knew the deceased well. We see Pandey and Preksha trade slaps. Was the former trying to impose himself on her?

She had big dreams in her eyes, desiring to become a star in quick time.  It appears that Preksha befriended some influential but also dubious people.

Though another murder mystery, it’s the two leading female characters who arouse our interest. Up first is the female cop. Inamdar looks very promising in this cop avtaar. She has been part of noir before – Criminal Justice (series) [2019], The Great Indian Murder (series) [2022].  We haven’t seen any of her works, but this female cop-character is attracting us already.

A de-glam look, with virtually no make-up. her eyes filled with stress, Inamdar’s Nagpuri cop isn’t anything like your glamourous, over-hyped female Bollywood cop character.  There is realism in her tone, appearance and body language. If need be, she can get physical too.  Jeez, did he see her rough up her own father? [played by Raghubir aka Raghuveer Yadav].  This father-daughter relationship is unique. The father was a cop, and so he is bound to be in the ears of his daughter, who has emulated him. Yadav, Rajesh Sharma, Santosh Juvekar are celebrated artistes. Their presence is bound to lift any screenplay.

Nisha as Preksha in Minus 31 – The Nagpur Files

One on hand you have Inamdar, then on the other it is the hustling rapper Preksha who is diametrically opposite to Inamdar’s character. We don’t think there is a showdown per se between the cop and the rapper, but the latter’s devil-may-care-attitude isn’t going please the cops or her dear ones. The director Moitro revealed that Rooney Mara served as an inspiration for Preksha’s character.  Those are tall boots to fill. We hope Nisha has played Preksha her way.

As often with street artistes, it is the lingo that is a double-edged sword. It might appeal to the target youth, but very unlikely to click with the traditionalists.

A murder in a pandemic would be unthinkable. Then the rap elements add another layer to the mystery. The film also has professional rapper Kunal Pandagale better known by his stage name Kaam Bhari. We disagree with Sandy’s [Bhari] view that adults don’t know rap.  This reviewer has his strong views about desi rappers, but that is a debate for another day. Perhaps we get to see the underground music space in Nagpur during Covid-19.

Though the film was shot was last year when Covid-19 was nearly over, the pandemic element is milked to create the murder mystery as well as shield the Nagpur underground music space.

Though devoid of stars, but the leading characters, mystery, rap music and even the pandemic add an element of intrigue around Minus 31.  The local slang might be beyond the rest of India’s head, but Nagpur is seldom tapped into Bollywood.  One thing certain, after this film, Nagpur will no longer be about just oranges.

Watch the Minus 31 – The Nagpur Files trailer below. The film is set to be released in theatres on 21 July.

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