In Mrs. Serial Killer — a daft, unoriginal, B-movie title, if there ever were one — Jaqueline Fernandez plays Sona, the wife of a gynaecologist who is presumed to be a serial killer when five bodies of pregnant women are found buried in their hospital property.

Her husband, Mrityunjoy “Joy” Mukerjee — a very hammy Manoj Bajpayee making the weirdest faces of his career — is falsely accused, Sona tells everyone, but the evidence, despite being circumstantial, is overwhelming. The only one who believes her is one of her husband’s old clients, Rastogi (Darshan Jariwala), a very ill, seemingly near-death, swashbuckling lawyer.

Rastogi has a plan: why doesn’t Sona, a good, loving, housewife kidnap and kill a pregnant woman (Zayn Marie Khan) to free her husband from jail. Killing a woman, the lawyer argues, will hoodwink the authorities into believing that the real serial killer is still out there.

Spoiler Alert! At this moment, I urge the readers to give the title one more look. The film is Mrs. Serial Killer — not The Wife of a Doctor Wrongly Presumed to be a Serial Killer; the makers of the film are far from subtle, believe me.

Mrs. Serial Killer could have been a fun movie, if the story was tonally on the mark or even somewhere remotely near that mark’s five-mile radius

This could have been a fun movie, if the story was tonally on the mark … or somewhere remotely near that mark’s five-mile radius.

Shirish Kunder, the writer, director, editor, music composer and producer (along with wife Farah Khan), messes up every aspect of the movie’s storytelling. Almost every character is derived from a lifeless, done-to-death, B-movie archetype. One of the inanest ones is Sona’s ex, Imran Shahid (Mohit Raina), who also happens to be an alcoholic cop hellbent on framing Sona’s husband. One can see the story’s turns coming a mile away — each one as groan-inducing as the next.

As if the narrative, and the acting, weren’t bad enough (Fernandez’s accent, and the dialogues in general, are laughably bad), one has but to look at the production design to figure out that the ideas weren’t the only bankrupt factor in the movie.

Littered with green, pink and red neon lights, gargantuan cardboards posing as sets, and a very bad serial killer’s operation room, which somehow necessitates the need to hang three dozen empty drip sets, one can only feel bad for Ravi K. Chandran and Kiran Deohans — two well-known cinematographers credited for filming this mess. Chandran has lensed Virasat, Ghajini, Black and Saawariya; Deohans has Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Jodhaa Akbar and Agneepath in his filmography. Kunder, on the other hand, has a universally loathed career as the director of Jaaneman, Joker, and the writer-producer of wife Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan.

Years ago, I would have, and probably did, give Kunder some leeway for his strange, quirky, borderline childish, sense of approach to comedy.

Not now.

Two-thirds of Mrs. Serial Killer is insipid and second-rate, even if one argues in favour of it being a homage to B-movies. One may argue about it, but that doesn’t mean it is a homage for bad — or badly made — cinema.

Those sticking out till the end may find the last 20 minutes somewhat amusing. However, going through an entire film for some moments are hardly worth the waste of one’s time — even if there is time to waste during the Covid-19 pandemic, or even if one doesn’t have to waste money on it (the film is on Netflix so, technically, the only thing one is wasting is time and internet bandwidth).

Mrs. Serial Killer is for 16 years or older (or TV-MA in the US). Parents strongly cautioned — this film has bad everything.

Published in Dawn, ICON, May 10th, 2020