‘Murder Mubarak’ review: An annoyingly enjoyable pulpy murder mystery
(Credits: Netflix)

Film Reviews

‘Murder Mubarak’ review: An annoyingly enjoyable pulpy murder mystery

Murder Mubarak - Homi Adajania

Netflix has cornered the market in movies you can watch with half an attention span, one eye on your phone, and also partially daydreaming. It seems as if it’s written in the contracts signed between the streaming giant and creators: viewers must be able to doom-scroll while they lap up the latest offering from the house of Netflix. Homi Adajania’s Murder Mubarak (translation: Congratulations on Murder), the newest offering in this vein, embodies the very essence of these dumbed-down, casually consumable films. It happens to be a murder mystery, too, so that’s a double win for the platform. After all, murder mysteries sell like hotcakes.

Set against the backdrop of the exclusive Royal Delhi Club, Murder Mubarak follows the murder investigation of the club’s fitness coach, Leo. ACP Bhavani Singh, portrayed by the ever-reliable Pankaj Tripathi, along with his loyal sidekick PK, Sub Inspector Padam Kumar (Priyank Tiwary) leads the investigation. As they probe the unusual suspects, they infiltrate a space where nannies, drivers, and house-helps aren’t allowed in. As the plot unfolds, it becomes evident that Leo’s connections with the club’s affluent members are fraught with secrets and scandals, each one a potential suspect in his demise.

It is a delicate balance filmmakers must walk, trying to deliver well-rounded laughs that are not too bougie while being able to engage viewers whose brains haven’t completely fallen out yet. While this may result in fun entertainment for a couple of hours, ala Glass Onion, it can also leave us with absolutely mindless quasi-cinematic travesties like Lift, Irish Wish, or Heart of Stone.

Murder Mubarak boasts an ensemble cast worth feeling giddy about, especially if you happen to be an elder Millennial. Karisma Kapoor returns to the silver screen, still in peak form. Dimple Kapadia throws in a kookily amusing performance as an eccentric beetroot cocktail connoisseur with a penchant for making the ugliest sculptures. As the young, entitled widow tangentially embroiled in the case, Sara Ali Khan is adequate, but the bar is set low given her string of subpar earlier performances.

However, despite the talent on display—from Deven Bhojani’s snotty club manager to Brijendra Kala’s dementia-stricken club employee—the characters remain thinly sketched. It’s not like Murder Mubarak doesn’t take risks. The film is smattered with plenty of gore and disturbing scenes, but it does not land its class commentary with much sharpness or nuance. The story and its execution heavily rely on the viewer’s prior knowledge of the ‘Eat the Rich’ genre of stories. 

Adajania’s pulpy but annoyingly enjoyable Murder Mubarak attempts to carve its niche in the realm of silly murder mysteries but falls short of its more illustrious predecessors. Written for the screen by Gazal Dhaliwal and Suprotim Sengupta, based on Anuja Chauhan’s Club You To Death, Murder Mubarak has the same DNA as Knives Out. However, the Rian Johnson whodunit is far superior in both taste and treatment. 

The film falters in its execution of the murder mystery itself. The plot is contrived, relying on convenient coincidences and implausible twists to propel the story forward. While the mystery gets solved by the end, it ultimately feels anticlimactic because you see it coming miles ahead.

Again, relying on the audience’s short attention span, the editing is choppy, and every joke is underscored by repetitive leitmotif. Despite its excessive 143-minute runtime, we get a final product that is bloated and yet incoherent. Adajania’s direction, while competent, fails to capture the same level of wit and finesse found in his previous works like Being Cyrus and even Finding Fanny.

Amid the chaos, there are glimpses of the brilliance that could have been. From the miserly aristocrat who is living in the past as well as the closet to the gossipy socialites and upstart parvenus, Murder Mubarak revels in its depiction of upper-class absurdity.

In the end, Murder Mubarak is a mixed bag, the kind Netflix doesn’t mind dishing out repeatedly to feed into the great sucking maw of the streaming-obsessed. Murder Mubarak becomes one more passable but fun diversion for those seeking a mindless mystery to while away the hours.

You can stream Murder Mubarak on Netflix and catch the trailer here: