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Dial 100: Justice or Revenge?

We are informed it is a night of thundering rains. One of the characters comes in wearing a raincoat. But strangely enough, the soundtrack bears
dial 100 photo zee
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Dial 100, released today on an OTT platform, has Manoj Bajpai who is increasingly becoming the unique selling point of OTT suspense thrillers. Dial 100 is classified under the “suspense” genre which is entirely focussed on the Mumbai Police Emergency Control Room where the entire staff is trying to keep awake with cups of tea through a busy night shift when the telephones never stop ringing. One such call from an anonymous caller turns the tables on one of the senior police officers, Nikhil Sood and changes his life forever.

The film does not beat around the bush clearly showing that there is more “character” than “story” in it. The two basic dynamics of suspense according to Lars Ole Sauerberg are concealment and protraction. A thriller dealing with concealment creates suspense by hiding something from the audience while protraction is delaying an expected outcome. According to Sauerberg, “Whereas concealment is the author’s deliberate withholding of information, protraction is a matter of stretching an issue and a result as much as may be tolerated.” Dial 100 mainly explores “protraction” as the viewer gets a glimpse of the incident that is key to the plot at the very beginning. 

The narrative stretches to one entire night that sets the ball of suspense rolling. As is common in such narratives, Sood is also plagued by personal issues. The “concealment” begins in the Emergency Control Room. Sood is threatened not to share his problem with any of his colleagues. though they are quite confused about the visible tension he displays and pushes away their helping hand. The anonymous caller seems to know Sood and addresses him by his name. It is a woman who seeks justice for the death of her son. 

Sood’s personal issues also play a key role in the plot. Therefore a significant part of the plot unfolds at his home. Rensil D’Silva, who previously helmed ‘Kurbaan’ (2009) and ‘24’ (2013-16), has a knack for thrillers. There is absolutely no ambivalence about the story. The narrative is linear. The director has spread out a generous scattering of thrills to keep the action running at top speed. Some of the happenings seem convoluted but they manage to keep the suspense running. 


We are informed it is a night of thundering rains. One of the characters comes in wearing a raincoat. But strangely enough, the soundtrack bears no indication to that. Except for a few frames, the visuals also somehow miss it. The other glaring omission is the bleeding dog in Sood’s house which is ignored as if it did not exist. However, one of the redeeming factors of the tale is the twist in the tale. It is entirely unexpected and stripped completely of any kind of melodrama. 

Manoj Bajpayee in Dial 100
Manoj Bajpayee pretty much steals the show

Neena Gupta as Seema is outstanding in a negative role. She deftly portrays a person veering towards a nervous breakdown. Sakshi Tanwar as Sood’s wife is very good too. But the cake along with the frosting and the cherry on top goes to Manoj Bajpayee. Especially in the end when his body language, his gait, his shock is incredibly brilliant.

The film is a lost opportunity for what could have been a magical sound design. But the environmental dimension is developed elaborately and an efficient production design captures the frugal yet tense ambience of a police control room perfectly. All in all, it is most certainly worthy of a watch.  

Images courtesy: Zee

Shoma A. Chatterji is a freelance journalist, film scholar and author based in Kolkata. She has won the National Award twice, in 1991 and 2000. She has authored 26 published titles of which 14 are on different areas of Indian cinema. She holds two Masters Degrees and a Ph.D. in History (Indian Cinema). She has also won a few Lifetime Achievement Awards from different organizations over time.

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