Eons ago, a friend enlightened me with a rule of thumb to unravel the whodunit films. He said, 'in most of the murder mystery movies the murderer is the least suspected character, not the most obvious one.'
That's the fun of watching a thriller. Mounting suspense leading to teetering nailbiting moments as the story twines and untwines on the screen. Aban Bharucha Deohans directed 'Silence... Can You Hear It?', streaming on Zee5, pans out well hatching those high-strung moments, but when the plot, sporadically, veers off to tortuous pitfalls, it is Manoj Bajpayee who redeems it with his thundering performance.
As the movie opens, the director wastes no time in establishing the murder. The body of a lady named Pooja (Barkha Singh) is spotted by some trekkers on the top of a hill. She is the daughter of a retired judge, who wants the case to be probed by a special cop: ACP Avinash Verma (Manoj Bajpayee). The ACP is notorious for his bizarre methods of investigation as he doesn't shy away from crossing the lines and believes in delivering instant justice.
Police commissioner Sanjay Sharma (Denzil Smith) is not impressed by the idea, but on the insistence of the grieving father, he assigns the probe to ACP Verma, shifting him from the Narcotics Department and sparing him a small team to carry out the operation.
Before the inquiry begins we are aware that there is another woman (Kavita) in the story who almost died falling down the stairs in the house and has slipped into a coma. From the same house, the same day, Pooja, who is a friend of Kavita, had gone missing. And the shady account of the entire sequence of events narrated by Kavita's politician husband Ravi Khanna (Arjun Mathur) makes him the first suspect of the viewers.
Then ACP Verma, as he launches the probe seeking Pooja's post mortem report and visiting the crime scene, calls attention to the modus operandi of the murder and starts connecting the dots to reach the culprit. Henceforth, we look at the complete plot through the eyes of ACP Verma, while he discusses the twists and turns and leads the investigation with his team.
All through the scheme, Ravi Khanna remains the prime suspect and the whole inquiry turns an arduous exercise to nail him. Thankfully, barring some dismally slack bits and disjointed scenes - squeezed in deliberately to mystify the tale but left up in the air - the spectator goes with the flow buying most of the narrative. But as my 'Byomkesh Bakshi' fan friend had told me decades ago, yet again the least suspected person turns out to be the killer, and much credibly so.
All said and done, it won't be an exaggeration to add that without Manoj Bajpayee - or someone equally good who could embody the character so ingeniously - film 'Silence... Can You Hear It?' could have silently slipped into history for the gaping holes in the yarn. Fearless ACP Verma showing egoistic politician Ravi Khanna his place at the police station is not the only scene worth watching again and again.
Last but not least, Prachi Desai (as Sanjana Vatia) has made an admirable comeback in the movie, while Sahil Vaid and Vaquar Shaikh - playing the other two cops in the ACP probe team - seemed in sync with each other.