Review: ‘HIT: The First Case’ (2022), starring Rajkummar Rao, Sanya Malhotra and Akhil Iyer

December 17, 2022

by Carla Hay

Rajkummar Rao and Akhil Iyer in “HIT: The First Case” (Photo courtesy of T-Series Films)

“HIT: The First Case” (2022)

Directed by Sailesh Kolanu

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed area of India, the Hindi-language action film “HIT: The First Case” (a remake of the Telugu-language movie of the same name) features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A 32-year-old police detective, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, investigates the disappearances of two young women, one of whom is his girlfriend/colleague. 

Culture Audience: “HIT: The First Case” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of suspenseful and action-filled mystery thrillers that have unexpected plot twists.

Rajkummar Rao and Sanya Malhotra in “HIT: The First Case” (Photo courtesy of T-Series Films)

“HIT: The First Case” sometimes gets distracted by sappy romantic scenes shown in slow-motion, but it’s an otherwise thrilling, action-packed mystery that will keep viewers guessing. The intriguing plot twists make up for some of the movie’s flaws. This movie isn’t going to win any major awards, but it should satisfy people who like stories about realistically imperfect detectives and challenging crime cases. “HIT: The First Case” handles the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder in a way that’s sometimes overly dramatic but it’s never disrespectful or pitying.

Written and directed by Sailesh Kolanu, “HIT: The First Case” is a Hindi-language remake of Kolanu’s 2020 Telugu-language movie of the same name. The remake stays faithful to the same story, but the Hindi-language version of “Hit: The First Case” has action that’s a little more intense and brutal than the Telugu-language version. The action is staged in a fairly standard way. What makes the movie worth watching is getting the bottom of the mystery, which has some intriguing twists and turns.

In “HIT: The First Case,” Vikram “Vicky” Jaisingh (played by Rajkummar Rao) is a 32-year-old police inspector in unnamed part of India. Vikram works in the department called Homicide Intervention Team (HIT), where he has earned a reputation as an excellent detective who has an ability to solve cases quicker than the average investigator. However, Vikram has recently been diagnosed with having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stemming from an incident where he couldn’t prevent a woman from being tortured.

The movie opens with Vikram having a nightmare about this incident. He is in therapy for his PTSD, but he doesn’t follow his psychiatrist’s advice to take medication for PTSD. His psychiatrist also says that because Vikram is having panic attacks, Vikra should quit his job. He also chooses not to heed this advice.

Vikram has a kind and loving girlfriend named Dr. Neha Mehta (played by Sanya Malhotra), who just happens to be a work colleague. Neha is a scientist who works in forensics lab that the police department uses. Vikram’s closest friend at work is his cop partner Rohit Shukla (played by Akhil Iyer), who is happily married to his wife Sapna (played by Nuveksha). Rohit, who is about the same age as Vikram, has no kids with Sapna.

Three other members of HIT are prominent parts of the story: Ajit Singh Shekhawat (played by Dalip Tahil) is the no-nonsense supervisor of Vikram and Rohit. Ibrahim Sheikh (played by Milind Gunaji) is a sub inspector whose quick temper sometimes gets him in trouble. Akshay (played by Jatin Goswami) is an inspector who is a jealous rival of Vikram’s and who seizes any opportunity to try to look better than Vikram.

Vikram and Neha have hit a rough patch in their relationship. Neha believes that because of his PTSD, Vikram should quit police work. She even goes as far to say that she will go to the police department and declare him unfit for his job. They bitterly argue about it. Vikram shouts during their argument: “You’re trying to blackmail me!” Rohit and Sapna are in the room during this argument, and Vikram get angry at them too because he thinks these two spouses are siding with Neha.

Vikram will soon be consumed by an investigation that tests everything he is as a police detective and as a human being. An 18-year-old woman named Preeti Mathur (played by Rose Khan) has been reported missing by her worried parents Mohan Mathur (played by Hemraj Tiwari) and Laxmi Mathur (played by Shikha Pareek), who are adamant that Preeti did not disappear voluntarily. All her parents know is that Preeti was stranded on a highway becaue her car was stalled, and she called Mohan to pick her up.

When Mohan arrived where Preeti said she was, Preeti’s car was there, but she was not. At the beginning of the investigation, the last known person to see Preeti alive was Ibrahim, who was on duty when he saw that Preeti was having car trouble, and he stopped to help. Ibrahim offered to give her a ride, but Preeti declined and instead asked to use Ibrahim’s phone to call her father, since she sad she left her own phone at home.

Ibrahim says that he saw Preeti call her father, and the last time he saw her, she got into a blue car that picked her up on the freeway, but he was too far away to see who the driver was. Ibrahim assumed at the time that Preeti’s father Mohan was the driver of the car and didn’t think anything more of it until Preeti was reported missing. Mohan says that he doesn’t have a blue car and that Preeti was nowhere to be found on the highway or anywhere else that her parents searched for her.

Because Ibrahim was the last known person to see Preeti alive, he falls under suspicion, but he vehmently declares that he does not know anything about what happened to Preeti. Mohan is quick to accuse Ibrahim of knowing more about Preeti’s disappearance than Ibrahim is saying. Mohan also blames Ibrahim for not giving a ride to Preeti, but Ibrahim says that Preeti refused this offer and said she wanted to wait for Mohan instead.

Ibrahim loses his temper and insults Mohan. His boss Agit orders Ibrahim to make an apology to Mohan. When Ibrahim refuses, Agit suspends Ibrahim. Vikram and Rohit have been assigned to investigate the disappearance of Preeti, but they also have to wonder if Ibrahim is somehow involved. It’s a tricky situation for them to investigate a colleague who is a “person of interest.”

And then, things get more complicated: Neha, who was working as a forensics analyst on Preeti’s case, disappears and is believed to be kidnapped. Vikram wants to be the lead investigator on Neha’s disappearance, but his boss Ajit says that Vikram is too emotionally involved. Instead, Vikram’s rival Akshay is assigned to the case. Vikram is furious about this decision.

And you can easily guess what happens next: Vikram decides to secretly investigate Neha’s disappearance on his own, with some help from Rohit, who is worried about getting in trouble for helping Vikram. What about the case of Preeti’s disappearance? And does it have anything to do with Neha’s disappearance? Those questions are answered in the movie.

“HIT: The First Case” could have easily gone down a predictable path of having Vikram being a superhero-like cop who can overcome any obstacles that come his way. The movie doesn’t do that. Instead, Vikram is depicted as a realistically flawed human being who is in denial about how much PTSD affects his everyday life.

And with the added stress of investigating these two apparent disappearances, one of whom is the woman he loves, it brings an extra layer of tension to the story. Rao gives a solid and believable performance as the emotionally tortured Vikram. Where the movie falters the most is in hokey scenes that make Vikram and Neha’s relationship look like a commercial for a romance novel, such as having slow-motion montages of the couple going on dates. These idealistic and schmaltzy scenes don’t fit the gritty tone of the rest of the movie.

“HIT: The First Case” might get some criticism for having the adding the complication of Neha disappearing. However, Neha’s disappearance raises the personal stakes for Vikram. It also compromises his ethics, when he previously had a good reputation, because he investigates her disappearance on his own, defying his supervisor’s strict orders not to do so. Some viewers might not like the answer to the story’s mystery. However, it’s a plot twist that most viewers won’t see coming and is very plausible if people know about some of the bizarre and unexpected things that happen in real-life true crime cases.

T-Series Films released “HIT: The First Case” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on July 15, 2022.

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