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‘Operation Mayfair’ – Jimmy Shergill shines in unusual British-Hindi crime caper set in the capital (review)

‘Operation Mayfair’  – Jimmy Shergill shines in unusual British-Hindi crime caper set in the capital (review)

A serial killer with a penchant for glamourous women is at large…

TOUGH and tender may be one way to describe cop Amar Singh (Jimmy Shergill) who gets hauled back into the police force to track down a serial killer.

Writer-director Sudipto Sarkar’s first Hindi language release, ‘Operation Mayfair’ delivers a suspenseful, intelligently drawn ‘how did he do it’ story.

Quite early on in the film we (as the audience) know who is behind the spate of murders of glamorous women fashion models in the capital.

Alongside Shergill, Ankur Bhatia is another of the established actors who turn in compelling performances – Bhatia as the troubled Kevin. Let’s say no more about him – except he had a difficult upbringing and despite his obvious intelligence and capabilities – as a police forensic expert – is racked by horrible demons.

Cop Amar Singh (Jimmy Shergill)

Beautifully shot – ‘Operation Mayfair’ will have you reaching for your London tour guide (if you live abroad or even outside London). Shot last summer, London looks beautiful and inviting – full of light and air.

And this is in wonderful contrast to the dark themes that percolate throughout this tight two-hour crime caper.

Singh (Shergill) has his own challenges in returning to the force and facing both his once erstwhile protégé DCI Lisa Verma (Vedieka Dutt) – now in the charge of this investigation unit; while police psychiatrist Sonya (Hritiqa Chheber) still harps back to a time when she and Amar were close. Since then though, Singh has married and has a young daughter.

The precise circumstances of Singh’s departure from the force is only alluded to – but it doesn’t matter significantly as the action is situated mostly in the present.

All these characters have interesting backstories and this helps to anchor the film in a believable, measured reality and is closer perhaps to conventional British cop dramas rather than the run of the mill Bollywood crime capers.

Sarkar’s killer is complex and while the murders themselves are gruesome and sadistic, and quite likely driven by a deep-seated misogyny, he doesn’t choose to portray the murderer in starkly black and white terms.

Amar Singh and DCI Lisa Verma (Vedieka

Behind some of ‘Operation Mayfair’ is Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ and one of the characters indeed says there is no such thing as good and evil, only good acts and bad ones.

There is a suspenseful ending too when our killer is more or less rumbled and tries to find his way out – violently.

Entertaining, briskly told and a cut above average in terms of (embedded) music and characterisation, if you like the crime genre, this is for you.

There are some loose strands here and there – when we first meet Singh, he is Professor of Architecture at Oxford University and it’s not adequately explained how he became a cop and returned to academia; Singh pays off a potential lead – which seems something out of character, when he is all about probity and doing the right thing; and the phrase ‘you are a moron’ (with the emphasis very much on the last word) takes on an unusual importance.

But these are minor quibbles, see the big picture, go in with fresh ears and eyes and simply enjoy the ride on its own terms. (Sailesh Ram)

Acv rating: *** ½ (out of five).

Caption Main: Picture Amar Singh (Shergill) and Kevin Da Costa (Ankur Bhatia)

‘Operation Mayfair’ is out in India and the UK (in selected cinemas from March 24) now and Netflix later…

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture