Erstwhile television heart-throb Rajeev Khandelwal, signalling alertness and purpose through a mussed-up, bouffant-like hairdo and pursed lips, plays a Sherlock Holmes-inspired super detective called upon to investigate a mysterious series of events at the mansion of a wealthy patriarch in Samrat & Co.

The mansion, of course, is in Shimla. The patriarch (Girish Karnad), of course, dies soon after Samrat arrives. There is a contested will, of course, as well as several disgruntled family members.

Samrat & Co. opens with a dedication to Arthur Conan Doyle and his best-known creation, the polymath genius sleuth Sherlock Holmes, and any fine print that also hat-tips the makers of the recent Hollywood movie franchise and the British television series is invisible. Despite Gopal Dutt’s Watson-like sidekick, Kaushik Ghatak’s movie seems to have actually been inspired by the dog-eared and silver-fish-ravaged novels of the likes of Agatha Christie that kept summer holiday boredom at bay. Bathed in mould and as creaky as the floorboards across which characters stride in and out of Samrat’s list of suspects, the movie feels a few decades old despite moments and ideas stolen from Guy Ritchie’s anachronism-packed Sherlock Holmes films and the popular British series Sherlock.

The mystery is nothing to speak of, but events match step with Samrat’s brainwaves, and Ghatak wraps up the proceedings within a welcome 125 minutes. The ending promises a sequel, which might be better suited to television, given the basic production values, sheer scantiness of the plot, and the staccato screenplay.

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