Star cast: Purab Kohli, Arjan Bajwa, Mrinalini Sharma, Ayaz Khan, Samir Kochchar, Amruta Patki.

Plot: Things go terribly wrong when six college friends meet after some years. One by one, they get murdered under mysterious circumstances. An incident of their college lives has a bearing on the current murders.

What’s Good: A few chilling scenes.

What’s Bad: The screenplay which confuses the audience because of the intermittent flashback scenes.

Verdict: It is the audience which will play hide & seek with this movie.

Loo break: None, because if you miss something, you won’t understand the rest.

Moserbaer Entertainment Ltd. and Idiot Box Films’ Hide & Seek (A) is a suspense thriller. Om (Purab Kohli), his elder brother, Abhimanyu (Samir Kochchar), Jaideep (Arjan Bajwa), Imran (Ayaz Khan), Jyotika (Mrinalini Sharma) and Gunita (Amruta Patki) are college friends. One incident in their lives haunts them for years together and, finally, gets them together after many years of no contact.

By a strange coincidence, all the six of them are mysteriously transported to a shopping mall one evening after it is shut. A closed circuit television airs a message for all of them, informing them that they have a cut mark on each of their abdomens. They are asked to hide in the mall as otherwise there would be a threat to their lives. Om and Jyotika, lovers since college days, hide together. Jaideep has also loved Jyotika but realises that, like in college days, she won’t be his. Gunita loves Om but she knows that Om doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. Abhimanyu has always hated his younger brother, Om, as he felt ignored after the birth of the younger brother. Imran was so much in awe of Jaideep during college days that he couldn’t dare to go against him.

In the present times, Abhimanyu is the first to be killed in the mall. Imran is the next to die, followed by Jaideep. Gunita loses her life thereafter. As each of the friends is killed, the one incident that had sparked off this spate of murders is revealed to the audience in bits and parts of flashback sequences. It transpires that Gunita had been raped by Jaideep even as a scared and aware Imran did not raise an alarm. Enraged, Gunita had chased Jaideep with a revolver but had mistakenly shot Jyotika dead instead of Jaideep. The blame, however, had fallen upon Om, thanks to Abhimanyu’s evil design. Resultantly, Om had been sent to the mental asylum.

Who is behind the present murders? Why is he/she on the prowl? What happens to Om and Jyotika? Answers to these questions are revealed in the climax.

Apoorva Lakhia’s story is not very easy to comprehend and screenplay writers Apoorva Lakhia, Suresh Nair and Ritesh Batra don’t simplify matters. In fact, as the film doesn’t move in a linear fashion, the drama unfolds piece by piece and often confuses the viewer. As if that were not bad enough, the actors playing the six main characters are different in the present times from the actors playing the same six characters during college days. This comes in the way of the audience’s grasp of the story as it takes time for them to understand who’s who.

The screenplay writers have taken the thriller bit quite lightly and not even sought to explain how six mature adults had been transported to the shopping mall without their knowledge or connivance. But the fact remains that if one were to over- look the defects, the drama does seem somewhat scary once the incident of the college days becomes clear to the viewers.

Purab Kohli does a fair job. Arjan Bajwa is quite effective. Mrinalini Sharma is okay. Ayaz Khan is reasonably impressive. Samir Kochchar is average. Amruta Patki is alright. The young actors playing the six characters of the college days have acted quite well. Mangal Kenkre acts ably. The rest of the cast provides the desired support.

Shawn Arranha’s direction in his debut film, much like the script, forces the audience to apply their minds rather than sit back and simply enjoy, something not many may like. Shawn, nevertheless, does provide some scary moments to the viewers. Amar Mohile’s background score is quite nice. Music (Gourov Dasgupta and Chirantan Bhatt) is functional. Srikant Naroj’s cinematography is alright. Composition of action scenes (Aejaz Shaikh and Javed Shaikh) is okay. Editing (Chintu Singh) needed to be better. Dialogues (Raj Vasant) are commonplace.

On the whole, Hide & Seek has neither the face value to attract the audience nor the excitement and entertainment value of an enjoyable thriller to sustain the audience’s interest. Its low cost of production is the only silver lining, if one may use the term.

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