Is there a looming sub-genre of films about Pankaj Tripathi and nurses? After setting his uniformed carer’s heart a-flutter in Anurag Basu’s Ludo (2020), here is Tripathi stealing glances at Miss Kannan, who hasn’t left his side since he entered her hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Kadak Singh might have worked just fine – and been more credible – without Kannan, who abandons all her other duties to spend every waking minute with Tripathi’s Arun. Since Kanan is played by Parvathy Thiruvothu, who matches Tripathi twinkle for twinkle, the addition to the cast is forgiven.

Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Hindi film is less dedicated than Kannan to what we assume is its central idea. Does Arun, whose children call him Kadak Singh because of his disciplinarian ways, actually have retrograde amnesia or is he faking illness to avoid a bribery rap?

Arun, a government officer who investigates economic crimes, is the last person to have contacted the fugitive scamster businessman Agarwal. Arun’s recovery will solve the puzzle of the crores that Agarwal has swindled. But Arun can barely remember anything. He fails to recognise his daughter Sakshi (Sanjana Sanghi), his lover Naina (Jaya Ahsan), or his boss Tyagi (Dilip Shankar).

Kadak Singh has been premiered on ZEE5. The story, by Roy Chowdhury, Viraf Sarkari and Ritesh Shah, and Shah’s non-linear screenplay, draw circles around characters and viewers before settling into an all-too-neat conclusion.

Varun Buddhadev and Sanjana Sanghi in Kadak Singh (2023). Courtesy Wiz Films/KVN Production/Opus Films/ZEE5.

One half of the 129-minute movie is dedicated to Arun’s frayed ties with Sakshi and his younger son Aditya (Varun Buddhadev). Arun meets some of the requirements of the monster dad, which has weighed heavily on the sensitive Sakshi. Sanjana Sanghi does a competent job of playing a young woman who has had to grow up too early.

The mystery of the missing money is half-heartedly being solved on the side. Arun’s deputy Arjun (Paresh Pahuja) is among the investigators trying to join disarranged dots. The movie is divided into chapters, with each character coming forward with a section of Arun’s past.

The truth is too prosaic to have the desired impact. The irony of Arun’s transformation from cruel father into cuddly patient is the best aspect of the emotional scenes that precede the unmasking of the actual villain.

Pankaj Tripathi, who is skilled at portraying mischief as well as menace, is in fine fettle as the forgetful man. The world is wily and untrustworthy, Arun warns in an opening voiceover. For a while, so is Arun, and Kadak Singh.

Kadak Singh (2023).