Dr Khusi Pattanayak

One Friday Night (Hindi, 2023) has an interesting premise. It delves into the complexities of modern relationships and questions an individual’s notion of ethics and morality. But it collapses miserably in terms of execution (including police investigation).

One Friday Night has a tight runtime of about 92 mins and immediately launces into the crisis. It has all the right ingredients that makes a good thriller – isolated location, hidden motives, incessant rain, illicit relationship. The film adopts a minimal approach – no unnecessary beating around the bush or red herrings to chase. It relies primarily on 3 characters and very few locations to carry out the crime and eventual denouement.

But the biggest let down in the film is its writing and dialogue. One Friday Night even with its modest runtime feels too long and too stretched. Nothing happens in the first half and by the time we reach the second half too many things are brought together and the movie decides to wrap itself, still half baked.

Manish Gupta (Rahasya (2015), The Stoneman Murders (2009)) is the director and dialogue writer for One Friday Night. It is difficult to imagine that Gupta is the same person who wrote dialogues for Sarkar (2005), that brought him both accolades and awards. One Friday Night, in comparison, is a sheer lazy effort. The dialogues are not just mundane, they are plain boring.

The screenplay (Gupta shares the credit with Kamal Chopra, Ramesh Rabindranath) is predictable, slow, and repetitive. Nothing to look forward to in a crime drama releasing in 2023.

And that is the black hole in the movie. One Friday Night spends a staggering amount of time explaining the situation, reasons for deviant behaviour, and who committed the murder. But spends hardly any time in nailing the culprit! Things just happen; very conveniently. The police proceedings are rushed up and full of loopholes. The Drishyam-esque efforts are novice at best.

Raveena Tandon as a successful doctor is nuanced. But she does not have enough material to elevate her character from being average to great. Milind Soman is still eye-candy. But it made no sense to include Sonam in the script and keep him away from the camera for most of the time while the audience were denied more of his gorgeous looks (he was never much of an ‘actor’!).

Vidhi Chitalia (Serious Men (2020), Story 9 Months Ki (2020)) has a better role. She has a good screen presence and gets some decent dialogues. Though her character’s insistence on addressing Tandon’s character as aap and being as polite as possible has strong resonance to Susmita Sen’s character in Biwi No.1 (1999).

This script, as is, could have worked well few decades ago. But with so much of crime content being offered on-screen these days, One Friday Night feels amateurish in contrast and remains absolutely forgettable.

If you are dealing with a strong 90s hangover, then you may watch One Friday Night on Jio Cinema. It is streaming for free.

(The author is an internationally published writer & corporate communication specialist. Views are personal)