Movie review: The Stoneman Murders

Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Arbaaz Khan, Vikram Gokhale, Rukhsar, Virendra Saxena

Director: Manish Gupta

Back in the early 80s, a series of brutal murders held Bombay in thrall. The victims were all pavement dwellers, killed in their sleep, with the same weapon: a big, heavy stone was used to smash their heads.

The killer was dubbed `Patharmaar' in the press, and with passing time and no results, the case got buried, and forgotten.

`The Stoneman Murders' reveals the horrifying secret, like a proper murder mystery should, right at the end. The narrative is linear and non-fussy, the story-telling direct, peppered with some truly chilling moments.

It unspools with discredited cop Kay Kay being assigned to the case in an unofficial capacity: he's on suspension because of a custody death, but he's so convinced that he can crack it, that his boss agrees.

The gathering of forensic evidence, the photographs of the corpses, and the sifting that follows is classic detective territory, and the director does a good job of keeping it simple, but keeping it going.

Some forced moments intrude: what was the need of a nude back shot of Rukhsar, playing Kay Kay's lonely wife? As things stand, the deeply-troubled Kay Kay doesn't follow through, just turns his back on her, and goes off to sleep.

On the whole, though, `The Stoneman Murders' delivers on what it sets out to do: building a portrait of a disturbed, deranged mind, which thinks killing will set it free. And a solid performance from the always-watchable Kay Kay.

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