When it comes to serial killer crime stories, it is always best to stick to the guidelines, which are to make them feel as real as possible; the technical aspects should be tight enough, and the lead-up to the climax should be interesting. There has to be a layer of complexity as well, which will make any form of cinema in this genre an interesting watch. What if you come across a film that does not live up to any of the expectations above? U Turn, directed by Arif Khan, is a Zee5 Original that was released on the platform on April 28, 2023, and the movie is all about road accidents. What the makers did not realize was that the movie might have been an accident itself, where everything related to it just stumbled, crumbled, and fell apart.
The film begins with a biker dude speaking to someone on a call, and the caller on the other side requests that he come back to a certain place, which he had just left. It seems like a dangerous proposition at first. This is an indication of something that will go wrong in the film for the characters and the viewers as well. The man moves the stones that served the purpose of a divider to take a U-Turn, an easy way out for him to go back to the place he is now headed to. But the man also forgets to place the stone back in its place. An accident occurs because of the stones placed in the middle of the road, and the passenger in the car dies instantly. This sets up the supposedly gritty mood and the tonality of the film, which is that the film would have a preachy tone to it because people need to be told and spoon-fed about how to be civil on the road.
A young girl named Radhika Bakshi is living in a fancy apartment in Chandigarh while she is working as an intern with a newspaper. It is difficult to imagine an intern being given long-length stories to be investigated and question the authorities about the same. That is not how any newspaper functions. Living on an intern salary and managing to have a steady lifestyle is something that is off putting from the beginning of the film. Radhika is preparing a story on the deaths that happen because of the stones that are placed in the middle of the road, and there is no accountability from the RTO or the police to investigate how the issue can be curbed. Radhika is off to interview a government officer about these incidents, and that’s when the said government officer is found dead in his apartment. The last registered person to have met him at his home was Radhika, and she is being questioned.
Here at least, they have shown the right thing, which is that the police are always in a rush to arrest the suspect, especially if he or she is a journalist. Radhika is detained for questioning. The investigation comes across as wafer-thin, where one thing leads to another so quickly, and a lot of information is dug out rapidly. It turns out the people she contacted are the ones who took a U-turn on the bridge. This PSA-written film suddenly becomes a serial killer story because the people she contacts end up committing suicide. Radhika claims to have had no hand in their killings. All of them killing themselves cannot be a coincidence. It is a pattern that needs to be cracked, and the serial killer must be nabbed.
U-Turn goes into speeding mode halfway through the film; that is, there is no space for anything else to take place. Why is there a horror element added to the film? There is no explanation for that. The story suddenly becoming a serial killer saga just makes the film confusing because, at this point, this film has jumped into plenty of genres and is not committing to one. The screenplay is too fast to even handle or comprehend what exactly is happening or how a case such as this could be solved quickly. The running time of this film is one hour and just over forty minutes and it feels like the writers and the makers are in a hurry to reach the climax of the film, where the serial killer is revealed, and the motive behind their actions is also revealed. Being a commercial film, there is a revenge saga attached to it, which makes the film unnecessarily melodramatic. Melodrama is something that has its claws buried deep in commercial cinema, but it must be executed believably.
The quest for the serial killer ended quickly, which did not give the audience enough time to imbibe the big twist in the tale. The unexpected serial killer was something no one saw coming, which can be said to be a good thing about the film. Again, the pacing was the issue here because the writers, Radhika Anand and Parveez Sheikh, seemed to be in a hurry to close the chapter as soon as possible. So much for the film about accidents and how people should be careful on the roads, the super-fast pacing of the film’s narrative is an irony.
The performances of all the actors in the film takes a backseat because the film’s story and screenplay make the final product too easy to follow, comprehend, and finish. Such crime thrillers cannot be this simple. It needs to have complexity; there must be a chase, and there must be edge-of-the-seat stuff in the screenplay to make viewers feel the excitement. Sadly, none of them came up, and the performances of the actors only kept the film afloat for a while. Alaya F, Manu Rishi Chadha, Priyanshu Painyuli, and Shridhar Dubey’s performances stood out, but again, it was the only aspect of the film that let us believe that whatever is happening in the quest for this serial killer is true. No one asked for this too-fast, too brisk movie when the film could have been made with the utmost patience. Watch it if you want to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon on your couch and do not want to use your brain at all.