A debate about Muhammad bin Tughlaq – was he the emperor of India or only the sultan of Delhi? – sets the tone for Dnyanesh Zoting’s thriller for Disney+ Hotstar. The movie explores misunderstandings, stereotyping and deception through the prism of a hostage crisis.

A young man with a time bomb strapped around his collar invades a school function. Shoaib (Sparsh Srivastav) appears to be the latest kohl-eyed Islamist terrorist in town. He singles out Manoj (Jimmy Sheirgill), who is present at the function with his son Akshay (Naman Jain), and tells him to carry out a series of tasks to prevent the explosive from going off.

A decorated police official, Manoj finds himself dancing to Shoaib’s tune. Local police officer Sumitra (Asha Negi) also gets involved when she realises that there is more to Shoaib’s plan than is immediately apparent.

Nikhil Nair’s screenplay lays out the twists without pausing to consider the loopholes. The 86-minute duration manages to pack in an unexpected villain, a skeleton in a character’s closet, and questions about whom we choose to label as villains.

The most frightening crime is the unsolved one, says Manoj. Jimmy Sheirgill, one of Hindi cinema’s most dependable actors, delivers the goods even when the plot veers off course. Asha Negi is solid as the duty-bound police officer. Rajshri Deshpande, playing a school teacher, sings a famous Marathi lullaby that provides the first clue that something is not quite right.

Collar Bomb (2021).