In the mid 80s, a mysterious serial killer terrorised the streets of Bombay, stoning sleeping street dwellers to death. Large numbers of police personnel were deployed, but the killer was never brought to book. The killings then stopped as abruptly as they started, only to resume a couple of years later in Calcutta, where again the killer was never caught. I was in Calcutta at the time and as a 9 year old was suitably petrified of the legend of the 'Stoneman', as he was christened. Our first 'rock' star!! :-)
Manish Gupta, best known earlier as the writer of 'Sarkar', brings this real life incident to life with chilling effect in 'The Stoneman Murders', one of the finest thrillers to emerge in recent times. Although a fictionalised account of the investigation of the Bombay leg of these murders, the film almost convinces you that what transpired was anything but fiction. Kay Kay Menon plays a suspended cop who views the case as a vehicle to forge his way back into the force and to credibility. He carries the film on his able shoulders and doesn't fail to deliver, as usual. His manic and desperate portrayal of the fallen from grace Sub-inspector Sanjay is what keeps you glued to the proceedings. Well not quite... the script is the other hero, tight, focused and with only minor blemishes, one of them being the track with the protagonist's wife and his marital life, which gets a little jarring and takes a little away from the surrounding tension and intended claustrophobia. Arbaaz Khan, in another sleep walk of a performance, plays Inspector Kedar, Sanjay's colleague and the biggest roadblock in Sanjay's parallel investigation. You see, Kedar believes that Sanjay is the 'Stoneman' and will go to any lengths to see him brought to book. This subplot takes shape in the second half of the film as the film hurtles to its thrilling climax.
Manish Gupta as a director does a fine job and keeps the suspense up right until the very end, when the killer's true identity is revealed. The real life incident provides him with great ingredients for a thriller and he redeems himself as a fine chef indeed. Shooting most of the scenes in the night, amidst Mumbai's desolate streets adds to the pounding tension and recreates the atmosphere of the time pretty well.
The film is a good take on a 'what could have been' scenario. And it delivers.