Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom/India, 1988. Merchant Ivory Productions, Perfect Movie Productions. Screenplay by Zafar Hai, based on the novel by H.R.F. Keating. Cinematography by Produced by Music by Richard Robbins. Production Design by Sartaj Noorani, Kiran Patki. Costume Design by Sally Turner. Film Editing by Charles Rees.
The Merchant Ivory company set up a small film production unit in Bombay whose first production was this charming, character-driven mystery. An overworked police officer (Naseeruddin Shah) is mentored by a Swedish policeman (Stellan Skarsgård) who has come to India as a sort of exchange student to see how police affairs are run there. He ends up becoming involved with his new partner on several strange cases of missing personal properties that all circle around the attempted murder of a rich industrialist’s household servant, Mr. Perfect. Getting to the bottom of the fouled-up foul play is no easy task, however, when the suspects required for questioning are constantly baulking at the prospect of having to reveal their private lives to someone as low as a police officer. Madhur Jaffrey injects galaxies of light into her few scenes as the industrialist’s wife, while the entire cast brings to life this lovely little charmer with energy, wit and the hallmark sophistication of the Merchant Ivory stamp.