Director: Pavel Navageethan
Cast: Ram Arun Castro, Vishnupriya
V1 Murder Case wastes no time in establishing its primary genre, that of a forensic procedural. The film opens with scenes of a woman in her twenties (Narmadha played by Gayathri) being brutally stabbed to death, as she’s walking back home late one evening.
The film then cuts to its main protagonist, who is undergoing psychiatric treatment for Nyctophobia, which is essentially a fear of darkness. His character is named Agni (translates to fire) and I found this quite cheeky.
Agni is an expert forensic investigator, albeit a reluctant one these days. His medical condition, coupled with tragic incidents from his past have relegated him to the classroom, where he lectures assertively to his students that a forensic examiner’s best friend from any crime scene is always the blood sample.
Narmadha’s murder, or the ‘V1 case’ as it is now being referred to, seems to be sending the police on a wild goose-chase and Agni is roped into real action again to lend his expertise. There are a bunch of forensic jargons thrown at us from this point, but what essentially follows is a series of interrogations and cross examinations with probable suspects, coupled with other surveillance and deductive procedures.
Archetypal of this genre, these sequences are flooded with red-herrings and sub plots, with the aim of building suspense and adding complexity to the narrative. Some of these do reflect a streak of brilliance. I especially loved this short flashback where the scene of a practical joke inadvertently turns deadly, snatching a loved one from Agni’s life. There is also another scene where Agni identifies a chain-snatcher from a large group of suspects, with a simple behavioral test.
After all this generous build up, where I felt a little let down was in the final reveal. The denouement in this genre typically comprises of a ‘How’ and a ‘Why’. Here, the ‘Why’ worked for me. The ‘How’ didn’t. There are vague hooks around food poisoning and forensic deductions from facial expressions, which are not really very convincing. Even the confession from the killer is obtained almost instantaneously without much effort, based on these rather shaky ‘evidences’.
V1 is a film that had promise and could have worked more with better casting and more finesse and completeness in its writing. I understand that there might have been budgetary constraints and I’m willing to excuse some of these shortcomings because of that. What is interesting here though, is that the final reveal also comes with some stinging social commentary around caste that is a surprising subversion of this genre. This uniqueness definitely makes the film stand out from the crowd in spite of some of its imperfections.
At the end of the film, I was reminded once more of Agni’s discourse to his students on the importance of blood to a forensic investigation. If you look closely, this case also ultimately boils down to a rhetoric around blood. The only difference here though, is that it plays out around misplaced notions of its purity that some ignorant people still seem to harbor.
This film is now available for streaming on Prime.
Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot