I've been mulling for days over what to write about Right Yaaa Wrong, and I think finally, I can sum it up like this:
Above Suspicion has been described as a well-written, engaging, surprising, suspenseful film, a "well-made TV thriller" according to IMDb, with fine performances from Christopher Reeves, Kim Cattrall and Joe Mantegna.
But -- I had NO CLUE while I was watching Right Yaaa Wrong and making notes and trying to wrap my head around dealing with spoilers and figuring out what I liked about the film and what I didn't -- I had NO CLUE that it was, in fact merely a remake of this 1995 HBO telefilm. (For those intrigued by the small details of things, William H. Macy was one of the film's writers, and has a small role in it. I quite like William H. Macy, but that's neither here nor there.) And from what I've read in the IMDb forums, rather a faithful remake -- though I'm betting that what I actually find confusing, the bits I actually don't care for in Right Yaaa Wrong, the bits that are messy and short on coherence, and trying on the viewer's patience, are small departures from the original (though I can only guess, having not seen Above Suspicion myself. And that doesn't absolve Right Yaaa Wrong, but it makes me intensely curious to see the original.). In fact, I think they changed the ending of the film from the original, slightly, and it's the ending I find most troubling of all.
Okay -- let me tell you what I love about Right Yaaa Wrong. Pretty much, I adore the first twenty minutes. Those first twenty minutes introduce us to Ajay Shridhar (Sunny Deol), a cop with just a side of action hero to his character. Ajay is tough, he's determined, he's funny, he's tender, and he sees the world in shades, and not just in black and white. This stands in contrast to his partner Vinay Patnaik (Irrfan Khan). For Vinay, there is right, there is wrong, and there is a line between them. Vinay is the polar opposite of Ajay. Where Ajay is warm and easy-going, the heart and soul of their team, a devoted father and husband, Vinay is cool, introverted, prickly, unwilling to commit to a relationship.
And yet - the two of them complement each other. They are, despite the odds, the firmest of friends, there for each other through it all. And the "all" includes the fateful day when a bust goes wrong, and Ajay is shot, and ends up in a wheelchair.
And that's pretty much, I think, when the film starts to go all pear-shaped for me. So, here's my advice: if you're not a Sunny fan, watch the first twenty minutes and fall in love with Ajay Shridhar. And then? TURN OFF THE FILM. If you're an adoring Sunny fan? Watch the first twenty minutes. And then? TURN OFF THE FILM.
Okay, if you're like me, though, you'll actually watch the film through, and that more than once. And I seriously think people should watch films and form their own opinions of them. But, and also seriously -- I will now tell you everything you need to know about the film, and then you can TURN IT OFF twenty minutes in.***
I should probably issue a kind of SPOILER alert at this point. I've mulled over all week where the lines are drawn here, and I think I've pretty much decided that the thriller part of the film stems not from the planning of the perfect murder -- we know what happens pretty early in the film -- the thriller part is not finding out who the murderer is, but whether or not he will actually be caught out.
On some level, Right Yaaa Wrong explores a moral ground similar to that of A Wednesday -- when good people do the wrong things for very compelling reasons, then what should our reaction be? I'm not sure I had all the answers at the end of A Wednesday, and I'm not sure I have them at the end of Right Yaaa Wrong, either.
That said -- at the end of A Wednesday I was left feeling immense sympathy for Naseeruddin Shah's "common man", even if I didn't agree with his actions. At the end of Right Yaaa Wrong -- well, I felt incredible sympathy too, but for Vinay, who, it seems to me, was used and manipulated by someone who was supposed to be his closest friend. And I'm left feeling incredibly sad that my faith in Ajay -- my total, utter belief in him as a very good soul -- was shattered.
You could probably argue that this manipulation was part of the film's drama, that it produced the tension that keeps us hooked right through the film, and I won't disagree. There is a point where I sympathise so totally with Ajay that I almost want him to get away with what he's done. But as Vinay peels back the layers of the crime through his investigation of it -- there's his duty to the lines of right and wrong again, he is so compelled by his belief in doing the right thing that he's willing to set his friendship on the line to do what is so patently and compellingly right -- and Ajay's cold-hearted side is revealed, well.
(Okay, I'm going to throw up another SPOILER ALERT here. I hate writing up films with spoilers, but there's no other way for me to get the film out of my system unless I do this.)
I think I finally decided where the lines of right and wrong were. After he's acquitted, Ajay writes a confession which he hand delivers to Vinay. I suspect this is the biggest departure from Above Suspicion (I also suspect the sloppy attempt to introduce a love-interest, played by Konkona Sen Sharma in a role that feels like a bit of a mis-casting, is another one), and for me, as a viewer, it's a huge mis-step.
Ajay claims he would have pleaded guilty, he would have taken responsibility for his actions if it weren't for his son, if he hadn't had his son to look after. It's a last minute plea on the part of the film to make me believe that Ajay really is that man from the first twenty minutes of the film that I fell in love with, a man who maybe deserves to get away with what is, essentially, the cold-blooded, planned and calculated murder of his beloved wife and his brother when he discovers they've been having an affair behind his back, and then trying to pass it off as "self-defense", because really, they wanted him out of the way first.
And it just made me feel as if I'd been punched by one of Sunny's dhaai kilo ka haath.
***Also? After re-watching? I have to say, one of the things I find interesting about the film is that it turns the two characters on their heads. Sunny's character -- action-oriented, impulsive -- ends up in that wheelchair, and he becomes very intense, very inward-looking, holding everything in, staying completely in control. And Irrfan's character -- introverted, controlled -- becomes emotional and impulsive. So forget what I said, don't turn the film off.