Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to trash yet another movie, and since this one put me in a particularly bitchy mood, I hope you won't be disappointed. 88 Antop Hill cannot be much better than a bunch of 1st year film students' experimental film on the sleeping habits of ants. The adverts wanted to know if we dared to come. I dared and I wish I hadn't - because I would have been spared the gory and unnecessary crucifixion of some 15 reels of celluloid. In the immortal words of one Mr. Geoffrey Boycott, some might even call this movie 'absoloot roobish'.
Pratyush Shelar (Kulkarni) is a bank executive leading a normal life with his wife Antara (Pillai) and a small daughter. Pratyush and Antara have a little spat over a former girlfriend, and Antara leaves. One night, Pratyush gets a frantic SOS from his friend Aslam from 88, Antop Hill, asking him to rush over and save his life.
Turns out that the concerned Aslam was just trying to spice up Pratyush's (sex) life, because all Pratyush finds there is a hard drinking, coke-sniffing hooker, Teesta (Shweta Menon). Pratty is not really interested and all he has to do is get up and leave, but he can't do that innit? 'Cos then the story would definitely go nowhere innit? So this silly dance is dragged on till Teesta is killed.
Now, our boy becomes wetter than a rat in a lab experiment with hungry cats, hotfoots it out of there, and starts denying everything even to people who didn't ask. Inspector Arvind (Rahul Dev) makes a snazzy entrance, and using his brilliant detective skills, starts smoking right next to the body. Undoubtedly, he would have made the breakthrough discovery of the killer's identity 3 days later from the cigarette butt found on the murder scene. Jeez! And we wonder why we have so many unsolved crimes!
Moving swiftly on, we are rapidly introduced to a whole bunch of characters - Sol, Sonali, K K Menon, Prashant, Neeraj and Murali - all of whom are exploited to use up at least one reel each. Sonali (Jasmine) was Teesta's roommate earlier, KK is her rich 'n' ruthless fiancé, Sol is the henchman, Prashant is Sonali's brother and Teesta's 2nd boyfriend (Neeraj being the first), and Murali is the creepy old caretaker of 88 Antop Hill (can't have a thriller flick without one of them, right?).
Anyway, the story struggles along with the 'twists' being more like casual sideward glances. The hallmark of a great mystery/suspense story is that the audience are given all the information, or at least hints, for them to deduce or solve the mystery themselves. Many new points are suddenly introduced in the climax here, and a possibly decent ending is affected by some indifferent acting.
88 Antop Hill is an amazing house - it has its own flippin' weather system! Rain, thunder, lightining - all on command! Damn cool. And talk about a sound system - comparable to Michael Jackson's tour set up. Someone tell Rajesh Roy that timing is the key to suspense music, not random screeching at the raise of an eyebrow.
Gappa Chakravorthy has tried to do something good with the art direction, and partly succeeds, but cockroaches doing the backstroke in a plate in the first scene don't exactly put one in the best frame of mind. Atul Kulkarni has done a decent job as the main character in the plot, but some of the others look like they were picked up on discount sale from the loser catalogue. Rahul Dev is good but why make him smoke when it's painfully obvious that he doesn't and therefore can't do it with credibility?
See? I told you I was in a bitchy mood. But I must still be fair. An effort has been made, and that can be appreciated. All I'm saying is that it could have been far better, and the story and direction a lot tighter. The director has used some interesting cinematic techniques, but their impact is lessened by the loose plot. There are also some chills and thrills, but they are too few and far between to make any significant difference. All in all, 88 Antop Hill is a disappointment, but it's on failures that future successes are built. So maybe we can hope for a more original showing next time.
Thank you and goodnight.