Murder Mubarak Review: Poor Man’s Agatha Christie

Despite director Homi Adajania’s ease around quirky ensembles and macabre touches, Murder Mubarak fails to draw the viewer into its shallow world of the vain and wealthy, feels Sukanya Verma.

A hawk-eyed detective digging deep into the mystery and motivations of a bevy of elitist suspects in a quaint manner is a space mastered so definitively by the last word in this genre, there’s little another author can do to break new grounds.

Best known for her frothy novels The Zoya Factor and Those Pricey Thakur Girls adapted to underwhelming degree for the big screen and small respectively, Anuja Chauhan’s attempts to tread on Agatha Christie territory in Club To Your Death is not that exception. Nor is its Netflix adaptation, Murder Mubarak, penned by writers Gazal Dhaliwal and Suprotim Sengupta.

Despite director Homi Adajania’s ease around quirky ensembles and macabre touches, Murder Mubarak fails to draw the viewer into its shallow world of the vain and wealthy.

The thinly veiled class divide is bared when the Zumba trainer of the uppity Royal Delhi Club is discovered dead and, overnight, a slew of members turn into potential murderers.

As is standard practise, we are walked through the curious ways of the club’s ‘all that glitters is not gold’ surface teeming with comfortably skin-deep protagonists and their dubious alibis and facile testimonies.

What’s mildly fascinating is not the fakery of its snooty, entitled crowd but a composed cop’s investigation of the matter in plain clothes as he learns the ways and waywardness of the upper crust and yet limits his response to a succinct ‘hmm.’

In Pankaj Tripathi’s proportionate mix of curious and canny, ACP Bhavani Singh achieves a pleasant rhythm unlike his half-baked sidekick (Priyank Tiwari) prone to harsher judgement.

It’s a kumbh mela of suspects out there — the key players, the secondary, the periphery.

Trouble is not keeping up but not feeling any interest.

So there’s a kleptomaniac widow (Sara Ali Khan), a raunchy artist (Dimple Kapadia), a hoity-toity B-movie star (Karisma Kapoor), a braggart blue blood (Sanjay Kapoor), a gossipy socialite (Tisca Chopra), her dopehead son (Suhail Nayyar), a soppy lawyer (Vijay Varma), his huff and puff mom (Grusha Kapoor), a forgetful warden (Brijendra Kala), a dead womaniser (Aashim Gulati), a roasted cat and dozen more.

Murder Mubarak’s strongest asset is its cast and they play along splendidly to the simplistic stereotypes.

Tisca gets the cattiest line, Sanjay Kapoor evokes sympathy for the devil, Vijay Varma doesn’t know a note he cannot hit right, Karisma Kapoor gets her hands gleefully dirty, Dimple Kapadia continues her newfound streak to have a ball at the job, Sara Ali Khan is as mellow as she is mesmerising.

They are a good fit together but Murder Mubarak leaves it as a line-up never turns it into a combination.

Although a running romance within its killer-at-large mood is somewhat salvaged in Sara and Vijay’s sublime chemistry.

Murder Mubarak’s sloth pace and meek comedy give the movie the feel of a drawn-out Web series. Not to forget incessant background music alternating between sitcom and grating.

Filmmaker Homi Adajania has a flair for edgy wit but he cannot highlight the self-inflicted damage the delusional and privileged are capable of nor the upstairs-downstairs disparity that escapes their worldview.

Hmm, I hear you ACP Bhavani.

Murder Mubarak streams on Netflix.

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