Sailesh Kolanu’s HIT – The First Case firmly takes the police procedural very seriously. Like YouTube videos about boiling an egg or screwing in a light blub, Kolanu’s Hindi-language remake of his 2020 Telugu film of the same name is about the process itself rather than the end result.

Vikram (Rajkummar Rao), emotionally fraught and with a drinking habit, shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of a police station. But Vikram also happens to be the kind of intuitive investigator who sees clues missed by everyone around him.

Tortured by an incident from his past, Vikram has become a pyrophobe who shirks from fires big and small but has enough control to be able to light a cigarette. Vikram is forced to do double duty when his forensic scientist girlfriend Neha (Sanya Malhotra) goes missing.

Neha has been investigating the disappearance of a young woman two months ago during a routine car ride. In the time-honoured traditions of this kind of movie, Vikram, along with the help of his hardworking assistant Rohit (Akhil Iyer) at the fictitious Homicide Investigation Unit, starts to join the dots.

You have the soft-board decorated with photographs of potential abductors. The CCTV footage. The clues that lie in handwriting samples and the mud that clings to the wheel of a car. The unlawful third-degree interrogation of suspects. The red herrings. The perpetrator who’s hiding in plain view.

The 136-minute film turns on random coincidences and implausible plot turns. Like Forensic, the Hindi remake of the Malayalam film of the same name that is being streamed on ZEE5, the point of HIT is presumably to watch the rope burn all the way through rather than wait for the ash to pile up. There’s no scope for humour, except perhaps when the kidnapper and the motive for the crime are finally unveiled.

Like his overachieving hero, Rajkummar Rao works overly hard to make Vikram less uni-dimensional and more interesting, both as an individual as well as a supercop. A solid show, but the film is all wrong.

The cast includes Shilpa Shukla as the missing woman’s potentially shady neighbour, Milind Gunaji as a policeman who is punished for his efforts, and Dalip Tahil as Vikram’s accommodating boss. Jatin Goswami plays Vikram’s permanently sneering department rival. Sanya Malhotra floats in and out of view, a pit-stop in a film that follows the dictum that the journey is more important than the destination.

HIT – The First Case (2022).