Adi (Vijay Varma) arrives full of idealistic enthusiasm for his first day as a cop, but he quickly learns that the police force may not be the honest guardians of justice that he thought they were. He’s quickly embroiled in the deep rooted corruption of the police department when he’s instructed to cover up the murder of suspects by his superior officer, Kahn (Neeraj Kabi), but it’s clear this is not the path he wants to follow.
Before leaving for his first day he and his mother discuss something his father always used to say, that there are three paths in life; the right path, the wrong path and the middle path. But Adi points out that it is up to him to find his own path.
Following the cover-up Kahn and Adi head off in search of Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a violent criminal who has been carrying out contract murders for a slum lord using an axe. They track Shiva down, the rain begins to fall heavily, he flees and Adi gives chase. Cornering him in an alley Adi has a clear shot of Shiva but Shiva appears to be unarmed. Should he take the shot or not? Which is the right path?
We then see three versions of the story. In one version he decides not to. In one he wounds him, Shiva continues to run for a short distance then reaches into a bag and Adi shoots him. And in the final version he simply wounds him.
The single greatest issue with Monsoon Shootout, which unfortunately overshadows everything interesting about the film, is that the filmmakers appear to have no confidence in offering us three versions, the conceit which makes the film an interesting prospect to begin with. Rather than actually seeing three versions of the outcome of Adi’s decision we actually just see three different stories.
In the first segment, for instance, the bag that Shiva is carrying contains a gun but in the second segment, in which Shiva reaches into the bag and Adi shoots him, there is no gun. He therefore shot an unarmed man and is racked with guilt. The events we see in the three segments are therefore not dependent on Adi’s decision, as it is revealed to us that the circumstances prior to his ‘defining moment’ are not set in stone. It is a bizarre narrative decision on the part of writer/director Amit Kumar which turns what could have been an interesting film that asks questions about the differences that individuals make, fate and ethics into a dull and repetitive thriller.
In each of three stories the characters also behave in very different ways that go beyond simply what has changed narrative wise. Their behaviour, the way they approach a situation and their innate characteristics should surely be consistent. But Kumar again messes with the logic and characters behave in wildly different ways, again undermining the narrative conceit.
Despite these issues with the characterisation the performances themselves are at least reasonably good with Kabi as Kahn standing out, with his cool and morally compromised character also getting many of the best lines.
The cinematography, from Rajeev Ravi, is also excellent, taking advantage of the dark streets and monsoon weather to create rather stylish noir visuals. But it is ultimately all in service of an incredibly flawed script which shows so much promise early on but very quickly disintegrates.