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Sergeant: Hooda Plays The  Unhappiest Cop In  The  Universe In This Dark Brooding Drama



Sergeant(Jio Cinema)

Sergeant(Jio Cinema)

Rating: ***

Set  in presentday London and shot with a pain-lashed intensity, Prawaal  Raman’s Sergeant  is partly a police procedural, partly a  father-son  conflict drama. But largely it is the story of a man so  inured in his own pain and suffering that he  actually seems to enjoy them.

Quite often in this  intriguing drama of the doomed, I wondered what Randeep Hooda’s alcoholic cop Nikhil Sharma would be without his  trauma. He  would have no excuse to get drunk and abuse  his father(Arun Govil) and his  colleague and friend at the precinct Haider Ali (Adil Hussain)whom Nikhil suspects of being in cohoots with  those criminals  who destroyed his  life and  fastened his fate to  pain . And that includes  an amputated  leg which  leaves Nikhil, not wrongly,embittered  about the people close to him, including Haider  who  for some strange reason refers  to  Nikhil’s father as ‘Uncle’, although he looks closer to the father’s age than the son’s.

It is  also not very  clear  why Nikhil is so bitter about the world. I wish  the screenplay had taken a bit of  a breather,  allowed  Nikhil to come  out of his self-made dungeon of despair. Sadly the conspiracy theories in his head are allowed to fructify  in the plot. Nikhil was not imagining all the wrong around him.

Oh, well then.

So if Nikhil’s  paranoia  is verified  where does that leave the  core theme of  a  man so busy licking his wounds he  doesn’t care about the grievous hurt caused to others?

Randeep Hooda has a ball,and sometimes a ‘bawl’ , playing  this  unlikeable irredeemable  burnt-out cop with serious Daddy  issues, Mommy issues, Friend issues, Existential issues…He  grimaces, he howls  in  rage  and pain. The character is almost a masterclass for Hooda, and he makes the best of the wounded beast’s role.

It is  a very self-aware performance of the look-ma-no-hands variety where  vulnerability and  hurt are so aggressively manifested they get lost  in translation.The articulate cinematography(by  James Alfred, Benjamin Edgar and  Jim Edgar) looks at London with ruminative regret,  amplifying, as it were,  Nikhil’s  wrecked  soul.

The only time  Nikhil softens is  when  he  talks on video with his  love Monica(Sapna Pabbi). She is an abused  wife,  as tortured as Nikhil. They  bond, they  sob together. It is the  only concession to  sentimentality that  Nikhil is  allowed. Maybe the script needed to give him more reason  to  feel alive than a presence on  a video call.I am not sure he deserves  anything more , or less, than he gets. As things stand, Nikhil is  more a corpse  than a cop.More injured than injuring.

Sergeant  weaves through Nikhil’s  labyrinth of pain without allowing us to get close to it,  or him. We see him as a tantrum-throwing unlikeable man , a born loser.No harm in  that.  But hell, where is  the light at the end of the tunnel?




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