‘Mrs. Serial Killer’ is Shirish Kunder’s baby. As the writer, director, editor and co-producer of the film, he has had full creative control. Isn’t that every filmmaker’s dream? Unfortunately in this case, it is also every viewer’s nightmare.
Mrityunjoy (Manoj Bajpayee) and Sona Mukherjee (Jacqueline Fernandez) are living in marital bliss until Sona’s ex-boyfriend – inspector Imran Shahid (Mohit Raina), frames Mrityunjoy for the murder of six young women. Sona, determined to free her husband from jail, decides to commit a copycat murder to prove Mrityunjoy’s innocence. Her victim: Anushka Tiwari (Zayn Marie Khan). On paper, the plot of ‘Mrs. Serial Killer’ is intriguing enough to pique curiosity, but the execution is brutal. The pacing and tone are so off, eliciting the wrong reactions at the wrong time. Not a single joke lands, yet I spent so much of my viewing experience laughing. In short, ‘Mrs. Serial Killer’ is a bad film. Even worse, it isn’t bad enough to even be unintentionally enjoyable.
Fernandez starts off the movie quite well as the over-dramatic character she has been asked to play, but her dialogue delivery fails her the deeper we get into the story. Only two people on the whole set seem to have a grasp on what they are making (i.e. a campy mess): Manoj Bajpayee and Zayn Marie Khan. Bajpayee in particular looks like he is having so much fun playing up the ridiculousness that he manages to turn his scenes into the so-bad-its-good territory. He truly is the only saving grace in irredeemable trainwreck.
The aesthetic, however, is the real villain of ‘Mrs. Serial Killer’. It is so terribly distracting that focusing on the erratic storyline becomes impossible. The outdoor scenes are gorgeous, especially the fight scene in the flower field, which switches between totally silly to absolutely beautiful so fast, it causes whiplash. But the indoor scenes are a whole other subject. Netflix describes the series as “Dark”, which makes no sense once you realize how much money Kunder has spent on colourful tubelights. They are everywhere, in almost every scene, in every shade possibly available. As soon as I somewhat adjusted to the over-the-top lighting, I tried to find a pattern in the colors to no avail. A re-watch might have provided more clarity, but some questions aren’t worth answering. The scene in particular where the inspector Imran is interviewing Anushka’s boyfriend seems to have colored lights in the background for no rhyme or reason. Why do the two shelves way in the back have random red lighting on them? Kunder is attempting ‘John Wick’-style neo noir lighting, but that seems to be his only reference without any thought put into when and why. Almost every scene is overcluttered with props, colors and TV serial cuts, trying to do so much while ultimately communicating nothing at all.
A lot more can be said about the horrors of ‘Mrs. Serial Killer’ but I would like to end it on this note. There was one moment where the dialogue made me forget about the overwhelming aesthetic due to the absolute lack of ignorance it expressed. Anushka, assuming her kidnapper is a man, calls him gay for wearing womens’ perfume and proceeds to say “Tum pregnant nahi hosakte, isliye apni saari frustration doosri pregnant ladkiyon pe nikaal rahe ho? (You can’t become pregnant, so you’re taking all your frustration out on other pregnant girls?)” I really hope someone can explain the difference between homosexuality and body dysphoria to our writer/director/producer/editor.
By the end of ‘Mrs. Serial Killer’, it’s hard to tell if Kunder has the worst comedy timing ever or the best, because the only way the existence of this movie makes sense is as an elaborate prank. Either way, spare yourself.