Neeyat (2023)

Neeyat (2023)

This Indian murder mystery could use more polishing, but it’s saved by enjoyable performances and silly delights



Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Dipannita Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Niki Aneja Walia
132 min

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If you told me Neeyat was based on Netflix’s Glass Onion, I would’ve believed you and demanded that every country create its own local adaptation.

What it's about

Indian tycoon AK Kapoor (Ram Kapoor) invites his closest friends and family to a lavish party in Scotland, but when a mysterious crime halts the celebration, it’s up to detective Mira Rao (Vidya Balan) to figure out who the culprit is before it’s too late.

The take

It seems unfair to call Neeyat India’s (and Amazon Prime’s) answer to the Knives Out series of films, but it often feels that way. It’s a murder mystery that sides with the poor and satirizes the rich, and it mostly takes place in a grand manor that forces its colorful cast of characters to interact until, inevitably, their hidden motives surface. Of course, Neeyat isn’t an exact replica; it has its own inflections and charms, and figuring out how India’s ultra-rich live, specifically, is its own kind of fun. In fact, this is when the film shines the most, when it allows its talented cast to parade the silliness of their characters. Like Knives Out, it makes for a great ensemble movie. But as a murder mystery, Neeyat is not as successful in weaving multiple mysteries and pulling off twists. It’s bogged down by unnecessary melodrama, flashbacks, and exposition, eventually falling off the rails of logic. It’s still enjoyable, for sure, but maybe more as a campy comedy than as a genuinely thrilling mystery. 

What stands out

Neeyat is the kind of movie that will pull off plot twist after plot twist until it finally reaches the point of diminishing returns and becomes a parody of a mystery, instead of the real thing. But there is one major plot twist (you’ll know it when you see it) that stands out among the rest. Say what you will, but that twist genuinely impressed me with how unexpected yet fitting it was. It bulldozed me, so much so that I eventually decided to give the film a positive rating, if only to push people to watch it for that satisfying twist.

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