‘Sergeant’ (2023) Review: Randeep Hooda In An Abysmal Cop Movie Passed Off As A Psychological Murder Mystery

It gives no one any joy to write about a film that gives the audience nothing in terms of entertainment, engagement, thrills and excitement, happiness, or sadness. No emotion was felt throughout the one-hour, forty-five-minute running time of the movie. Sorry, we were wrong; the only emotion felt was frustration. Directed by Prawaal Rawan, the movie was released on JioCinema on June 30, 2023.

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This so-called cop drama takes itself too seriously, and it is all about Sergeant Nikhil Sharma, who is haunted by the memory of the death of his informant under his watch, and he becomes handicapped in his instinct to save the latter. Addicted to alcohol and diagnosed with depression since the big change in his life, the man is reinstated as a cop, only for him to get obsessed over closing the case assigned to him before his injury. What he does not realize is that there has been a change of order in his station, and things will no longer work as he wants. How will his obsession come to an end, or will he finally find a way to channel his highly emotional side?

As good as the plot sounds, and with the addition of depression and an emotionally charged protagonist, the actual movie turns out to be a slugfest. Nikhil is in mania over wanting answers about the case that collapsed right in front of his eyes, leading to two unwanted deaths, for which he takes the blame. The movie takes a great deal of time to get to this point and the aimless screenplay heads in a random direction with no clue how it will end. There are subplots about his mother supposedly being abused, a millionaire who is running a child prostitution racket, and Nikhil going through insecurities. The running time was still not enough to bring together these storylines and make this film a concrete product, because none of them were developed in the right way.

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It does not have a definite beginning or ending for the viewers to understand the entire stretch of the film. A 104-minute film is still short, and they managed to make the movie move at a snail’s pace because the screenplay had plenty of unnecessary scenes that could have been left behind on the editing table. We are not sure if that would have helped the movie sustain itself till the end. The story had the potential to produce an interesting psychological cop drama, but it was the screenplay that ruined the film for good. The placement of the scenes and the pacing of the plot, coupled with an erratic direction, wrecked the movie.

There is a character that is introduced out of nowhere in the protagonist’s life without any explanation as to how they know each other or why they are conversing. Halfway through the film, Nikhil and his colleagues forget about the case, as suddenly, the focus is on the relationship Nikhil was building with someone. This shows the makers did not pay any attention to making the screenplay better at some point because a little bit of refurbishing could have made this an engaging watch.

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The writers could not cover the basic tracks, and the way certain flashback scenes are presented, there is no way to indicate or understand which scene is presenting the backstory of a certain character. There has to be a reason why a certain person would act peculiarly, because, for the first twenty-five minutes of the film, the viewers were clueless as to what was happening on the screen and why the characters were going from one place to another, speaking in vague terms without explaining the context. The context comes into place if we know what happened in the past, but, in his case, the backstory of an investigation gone wrong is not established the right way, which will infuriate the viewers by leading them astray into a narrative desert. The narrative is too stretched and barren.

The screenplay and the song placement try to make the film seem like a dark, sinister psychological film, but the execution is shoddy because the film never seems disturbing, keeping in mind the topic they are discussing. The makers think they have hit the jackpot while talking about female abuse and deteriorating mental health. By the end of it, the makers very conveniently blame it on the mental health condition and never discuss how it could have been treated with proper care and medication. Even for the protagonist, who seems to be dealing with a lot of childhood trauma and PTSD, there is a small montage of him attending sessions with the assigned doctor.

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This portion of the film is infuriating because there could have been a more sensitive way to present psychological health issues instead of making them the only reason for things to go wrong. The climax involving Nikhil and his father is executed in the tackiest manner as there is no emotion felt, and the problematic sacrificial parent trope is what makes the messaging in the end kind of toxic as well. There is also talk about how one must accept fate as it is instead of working towards changing it. This comes across as a tricky projection of a toxic relationship for the audience to watch.

The performances of brilliant actors such as Randeep Hooda, Arun Govil, and Adil Hussain have been wasted in this film because the characters are half-baked, and they rely on putting forward one-toned performances that become repetitive. Randeep Hooda’s half-British, half-Indian, and half-Australian accent is weird. He overdid the performance of an anxiety and depression-ridden policeman. It did more to infuriate the audience than evoke our sympathy towards his character. By the looks of it, Adil Hussain was just sleepwalking through this role, and he was the one constantly subjected to Randeep’s character Nikhil’s over-the-top meltdowns. One cannot blame the actors for following the orders of the director and writer on how they want the scene to play out. We wish Arun Govil was given more to work with in this movie as a father who has a troubled relationship with his only son, Nikhil. There were layers to that relationship that could have been explored.

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Prawaal Raman’s direction and Praveen Angre’s editing had plenty of problems, for the film seems to have joined in the most random way as it became difficult to follow the storylines. This movie is not deliberately following nonlinear storytelling, but the execution is such that one would wonder what the end plan of the makers is. The cinematography works to some extent, but halfway into it, the voice inside your head will start telling you this film cannot be salvaged.

Sergeant on JioCinema is a film that ought to be avoided at all costs because, to say it in simple terms, this movie would test your patience, and it serves nothing when it comes to contributing something to the cinema.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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Sergeant on JioCinema is a film that ought to be avoided at all costs because, to say it in simple terms, this movie would test your patience, and it serves nothing when it comes to contributing something to the cinema.'Sergeant' (2023) Review: Randeep Hooda In An Abysmal Cop Movie Passed Off As A Psychological Murder Mystery