Nail Polish is the newest Zee5 Original film by filmmaker Bugs Bhargava Krishna, who serves as writer and director. The film plays out as a courtroom drama in the first half but takes a genuinely surprising turn in the second half, diving deep into becoming a psychological thriller.Veer Singh (Manav Kaul), who used to work as an undercover army officer for the country has retired from his previous life and is now settled in Lucknow as a coach training kids in cricket. A local celebrity and favourite, when he is accused of raping and murdering two poor migrant children and suspected of having killed dozens of others, a high profile defence lawyer Sid Jaisingh (Arjun Rampal), is promised a Rajya Sabha seat if he wins Veer Singh’s case. But is Veer Singh guilty of the crimes? Just as you begin to go down the track looking for the answer, comes a plot twist one really didn’t see coming.
The screenplay thus delivers a true thriller, even as the film comes across as unsure of which story it wanted to tell. Krishna also deserves credit for devising a screenplay that doesn’t involve hysterics, minimizing mental health or the law, and touching on crimes often not brought up in Indian film and TV.
However, the real prize and draw of Nail Polish come in watching the riveting and restrained performance of Manav Kaul. Even as the film goes into unexpected (and sometimes outlandish) territory, somewhat forgetting the original plot and stage it set up, Kaul delivers a performance that could have been caricaturish by most men. ‘Men’ being the operative word because make no mistake, this is a man fest. Manav Kaul captivates us in the literal sense, as he transforms between the first and second act, making us believe anything the film wants to suggest as plausible is actually possible. The man fest also sees both Arjun Rampal as the defence lawyer and Anand Tiwari as the prosecutor deliver remarkably understated performances. The main cast is well rounded off with Rajit Kapur as the judge, Madhoo as his wife, Shiv Subramaniam as Dr. Nandy, and Samreen Kaur as a woman from Veer Singh’s life.
The credit goes to the director for summoning brilliant performances from the whole cast, producing a film that may be flawed but very watchable keeping one hooked until the last scene.
P.S. You might remember the adman and actor Bugs Bhargava Krishna most as the English language teacher in the film Taare Zameen Par.
Nail Polish started streaming on Zee5 on 1 January 2021. Have you watched it yet?