Netflix India has teamed up with its favorite stars Rajkummar Rao and Radhika Apte again (the former starred in the Priyanka Chopra novel adaptation The White Tiger and comedy Ludo, while the latter has appeared in Netflix dramas like Sacred Games, Ghoul, Raat Akeli Hai and Lust Stories). From director Vasan Bala comes a new crime drama Monica, O My Darling, which pulls its name from the 1971 song “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” lyrics.
The Gist: Jayant (Rajkummar Rao), a young robotics engineer from a modest background, has made a name for himself at Unicorn Robotics: he’s about to be named successor to the CEO and is engaged to the founder’s CEO. But when Monica (Huma Qureshi), the CEO’s secretary and his mistress, tells him that she’s pregnant with his child, he’s afraid that everything he’s worked for will come crashing down. Jayant concocts a plan to silence Monica with a few unlikely allies who are also under her spell, though things don’t end up going according to plan — and the bodies start piling up.
What Will It Remind You Of?: Both the casting and the stylistic nature of the film give off a Knives Out vibe, as the world is inhabited with eccentric characters and the filmmaking is unique and memorable.
Performance Worth Watching: Sikandar Kher plays Nishikant Adhikari, Jayant’s future brother-in-law and another man caught up with Monica. He doesn’t have much screentime but is especially good in the hotel room scene where the trio hatch their plan.
Memorable Dialogue: Radhika Apte appears about halfway through the film as a police officer investigating the crime. She’s immediately suspicious of Jayant, who has a lot to gain from the murders, because of the way he carries himself. “Never ever report a backstory so perfectly. The more perfect the story, the more doubt,” she tells him when he launches into a story about his fear of snakes after someone is bit by a venomous cobra.
Sex and Skin: Despite a premise hinging upon multiple extramarital affairs, the film doesn’t really delve into showing us that part of the story.
Our Take: A story of sex, betrayal, and unlikely criminals, Monica O My Darling makes for a great movie night viewing. Rao and Qureshi are superb, especially Qureshi who delights in playing an object of desire but imbues her with depth. Many of the supporting cast members are also cast perfectly, with each slightly off-kilter in their own way but still feel cohesive in the larger story.
There are a few holes in the story: the film lacks depth when it comes to tertiary characters who end up being important to the story, and Radhika Apte’s character is pitched a little too high in her eccentricity. The final act also left me a little confused as it related to Apte’s involvement in the hijinks.
The film is very stylistic with close-ups, fantastical recreations in character memories, and in the choice of music used throughout the film. It all feels deliberate and even though director Vasan Bala hasn’t directed much before, it’s clear he has full control of what’s happening here. The resulting Monica O My Darling is enthralling from start to finish.
Our Call: STREAM IT. The plot is fast-moving, performances are great, and stylistically is very fun to watch.
Radhika Menon (@menonrad) is a TV-obsessed writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared on Vulture, Teen Vogue, Paste Magazine, and more. At any given moment, she can ruminate at length over Friday Night Lights, the University of Michigan, and the perfect slice of pizza. You may call her Rad.