It has murder, comedy, family drama, romance. But glaringly missing from 36 Farmhouse is a clear-minded focus.
Ram Ramesh Sharma’s movie has been produced, written and scored by Subhash Ghai. As as his practice, the veteran filmmaker makes a Hitchcockian cameo in his latest venture.
The Zee5 release begins on a promising note. Raunak Singh (Vijay Raaz), the eldest son of the heiress Padmini (Madhuri Bhatia), kills the lawyer who has been foolish enough to suggest that Padmini draw up a more equitable will.
Keen on preventing his brothers from inheriting the family fortune, Raunak disposes of the advocate and continues to play the good son. Unfortunately for Raunak, the new cook Jai Prakash (Sanjay Mishra) has a tendency to ask too many questions.
Even more tragically for Raunak, Jai Prakash’s son Harry (Amol Parashar) also lands up at the mansion as the friend of Raunak’s niece Antara (Barkha Singh). A body rots in a corner, Antra and Harry fall in love, while Jai Prakash giddily flirts with the caretaker Benny (Ashwini Kalsekar).
The film sometimes plays out like a harum-scarum comedy in the Abbas-Mustan mould and sometimes operates like a sub-Agatha Christie mystery. Leaping from one mood to the next, 36 Farmhouse never quite resolves its identity crisis.
The backdrop for the events is the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis is yet another character added to a crowded house with far too many unexplained elements.
Sanjay Mishra and Ashwini Kalsekar goof about amiably and contribute to some of the better moments. Vijay Raaz never makes the mistake of smiling. A woman who plays Raunak’s secretary/lover/murder witness has the most thankless role in the 107-minute movie.