Director: Kanwal Sethi
Cast: Mouni Roy, Purab Kohli, Kulraj Randhawa
London Confidential, the new offering from Zee5, is grounded in contemporary socio-political realities of the India-China border tensions and deadly pandemic. The film, directed by Kanwal Sethi and based on a concept by S Hussain Zaidi, feels like a hasty and almost gimmicky grab at topical issues. With an uninspired storyline and no consistent tone, London Confidential does not quite make the grade.
Even as the world is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, the outbreak of an even deadlier virus with Chinese origins looms on the horizon. London Confidential hints at a zoonotic intrusion, as we are told that the virus is spreading across the Indo-China border, but the Chinese intelligence is doing its best to keep a lid on it.
A week before he could present evidence of Chinese involvement at a virology summit in London, Biren Ghosh, an agent of the Indian intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), is intercepted by the Chinese intelligence and killed. RAW officer Uma (Mouni Roy) and her colleague Arjun (Purab Kohli) must find the mole in the Indian ranks and the Chinese source before the Chinese intelligence does. They are supported by the Indian ambassador to the UK, Nirupa, played by Kulraj Randhawa.
To its credit, London Confidential neither has lengthy jingoistic monologues nor in-your-face Chinese-bashing. The film is centred on Uma and Arjun chasing red herrings and false leads instead of the biowarfare angle.
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Time and again, there are reminders of how the slightest mistake from either side could lead to war between India and China, and how necessary it is to keep involvement of the intelligence agencies strictly under wraps. We are told that if British authorities get a whiff, the MI6 could get involved. Heck, even the title stresses the importance of keeping it ‘confidential’. Despite this, attacks are carried out in full view of CCTV cameras and multiple eyewitnesses. Suspects conveniently go about their shady business in houses with glass windows and the curtains never drawn. Even a high-ranking diplomat is bumped off.
The lack of consistency extends to the setting. A voiceover at the beginning reveals that the world is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. Establishing shots of London show people wearing masks and an outdoor advertisement saying ‘stay home, do not travel, save lives’. Two minutes into London Confidential, this is conveniently forgotten, with elaborate parties and characters going to crowded strip clubs.
Mouni, on several occasions, looks ill-at-ease as a pregnant woman. Sharad Kelkar makes a special appearance as her husband in an ill-conceived scene that seems shoehorned into the plot. Purab, who frequently makes shopkeeping jokes that fail to land, is also given a backstory, which is summed up in a two-minute exchange between him and Mouni. This, too, has no bearing on the main story whatsoever.
London Confidential is a crisp espionage thriller, at one hour and 14 minutes, but the trite and predictable climax does not live up to the interesting premise. “How did I not see this coming?,” Mouni asks, at one point. You can only sigh.
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