Naman Nitin Mukesh’s directorial debut is in the mould of 1990s thrillers, which were themselves throwbacks to 1970s suspense dramas. It’s the kind of movie packed with slinky people with lots of money and loose morals, enough red herrings to fill a deep freezer, and twists that appear all the way till the closing credits. The screenplay is by Neil Nitin Mukesh, who also plays the lead role.

Mukesh plays Vikram, a fashion designer who becomes a paraplegic after a car accident. Vikram was fleeing the scene of a crime involving the model Sarah (Shama Sikander) when he got grievously injured. A gun registered in Vikram’s name is missing, as is Sarah’s possessive boyfriend Jimmy (Taher Shabbir). Police inspector Roy (Manish Chaudhary) gets on the trail of Sarah’s murderer. Meanwhile, Vikram’s old rival Narang (Sudhanshu Pandey) is also lurking around.

Bypass Road is set in the rich parts of the Alibag town near Mumbai, and mostly plays out inside a bungalow that resembles an expensive furnishing store but has exactly one domestic worker to keep the dust away. Amidst the murder investigation, Vikram adjusts to his new circumstances, tries to rebuild his relationship with his father Pratap (Rajit Kapur), but doesn’t manage to avoid scrapping with step-mother Romila (Gul Panag).

Vikram’s colleague and current girlfriend Radhika (Adah Sharma) also shows up from time to time to justify her presence in a movie that doesn’t make enough use of her.

Bypass Road (2019).

The film begins with a death and moves on to another, and yet becomes strangely chary about piling up the corpses. Many minor miracles occur as the screenplay doles out the surprises. One character falls several feet and is shown walking around soon after. Another is set on fire and ambles about after cooling off in a swimming pool. Crucial conversations are conducted in full public glare, and the police’s inability to process the evidence is a contrivance rather than a comment on the villain’s superior abilities.

The flashbacks that are meant to jolt viewers out of their comfort zone are sometimes effective, but eventually end up stretching the narrative beyond acceptable limits. Had the 137-minute movie been as ruthless about its running length as some of its characters, Bypass Road might actually have worked. Neil Nitin Mukesh is well cast as the cool-headed and opaque protagonist whose arresting features draw you in but reveal nothing. Adah Sharma is criminally wasted, while Gul Panang has her moments as the glamorous step-mother who is foolish enough to consort with her lover in the open.