The introduction of the OTT space is definitely the best thing that has happened to Indian cinema in recent years. There is no other way that a film like “Operation Romeo” would have been green-lit. On the face of it, it is a simple story—an injustice happens, and the protagonist sets out for revenge. But it manages to turn into a masterful commentary on toxic masculinity and what it means for a woman to know her worth. Let us take a look at what the movie is about to better understand the nuances it presents.
Do Adi And Neha Escape The Cops?
“Operation Romeo” begins with Aditya wishing Neha a happy birthday and both of them planning a date. It is shown that Neha comes from a very conservative family and is extremely wary of keeping the details of her college life hidden from her parents—something most Asian women are familiar with. The next day, both of them set out on their date and have a good time. Adi is shown to be a somewhat possessive person. For example, his face turns sour when Neha jokes with him that a male classmate of hers gave her some flowers for her birthday. Or when another guy is checking out Neha at a café, Adi very aggressively tells him not to. Another subtle instance of this is seen when some of the boys in his building are preparing to get into a fight with someone, and Adi tells them to land a few punches on his behalf as well. In a way, it can be understood that he is a typical Indian guy—with set ideas about what it means to be a man and a so-called “protector.”
On the date, as both Adi and Neha get comfortable with each other, Adi asks Neha for a kiss. But their moment is interrupted by a man banging on their car door. He says that he is Mangesh Yadav, the sub-inspector of the area, and that Adi and Neha are in trouble for public indecency. Both of them are scared, especially Neha. She can’t afford this news to reach her house, as that would get her in a lot of trouble with her parents. Adi requests the cops to let them go, but they refuse to relent. After requesting a lot, Mangesh agrees to let them off if they pay him a certain amount of money. Aditya agrees and drives to an ATM. But there is another problem at hand, as he seems quite smitten by Neha and keeps making inappropriate comments towards her. Adi tries his best to protect her, but there is only so much he can do.
At the ATM, he finds that the machine is out of service. He rushes back to the car, and the cops decide to drive till they find another ATM. But Mangesh keeps staring at Neha, making the couple extremely uncomfortable. There is an atmosphere of fear that the cops are taking advantage of. At one point, Adi agrees to go to the cops instead of continuing with the cat and mouse game. But it doesn’t work out as Neha is scared of her parents finding out. The three of them finally find an ATM, and as Adi rushes to withdraw the money, he finds that Mangesh has locked the car with himself and Neha in it. He runs back, only to find her in tears. It is unclear what has happened, but it is obvious that Mangesh has behaved inappropriately with her.
Either way, he takes the money from Adi and tells them to leave. The couple, free of the cops, go back home. Once they arrived, Adi asked Neha what had happened in the car. He tells her that he needs to know as a man. Neha, in reply, says “man,” and the question mark is clear in her sentence. It could mean that she feels that Adi failed to protect her as a “woman,” or it could also be a reference to the ridiculousness of the question, as she is the victim in this case. But Adi has interpreted it as her questioning his masculinity, and he is unable to come to terms with that. This brings us to the next part of the film.
‘Operation Romeo’ Ending Explained – Does Adi Find Out What Happened To Neha?
We see that Adi keeps thinking about the events of that night, especially since he feels that his masculinity has been questioned. And that sets him on a path of revenge. He tracks down Mangesh and finds that he wasn’t even a cop, to begin with. He was an ambulance driver, and he had just taken advantage of the situation. He finds out his address and goes to his house at a time when Mangesh isn’t home. His wife, Chhaya, is at home with their daughter. Adi pretends to have come there to discuss a contract with Mangesh, and Chhaya allows him to wait in the house till he arrives. But once inside, he makes it a point to make Chhaya as uncomfortable as possible. Be it him making a drawing of Mangesh as a dog, or him entering their kitchen to taste the food without Chhaya’s permission, or just hiding her phone. Chhaya, knowing something is wrong, asks him to leave. But luckily, that is when Mangesh arrives. That’s when Adi turns the tables. He gives him a taste of his own medicine by repeating some of the inappropriate lines Mangesh had said to Neha. Chhaya starts suspecting that there was some history between the men.
In the scuffle that follows, Adi injures Mangesh. When a few of his friends call out for him outside his house, Adi holds a broken shard of glass to his daughter’s neck, signaling him to keep quiet. The friends, thinking Mangesh isn’t home, talk about how he is an absolute womanizer and how he took advantage of a couple just the past week. All of it is overheard by Chhaya. Now she asks Mangesh what he has done to Neha. Having no other choice, he admits that, upon finding himself alone with her, he had asked her for a kiss. But she had refused, and when he had insisted, she slapped him. That’s when Adi returned to the car. These were the exact events of that night. Finally, knowing the truth, Adi apologizes to Chhaya and warns Mangesh to never repeat such things, because there is someone out there who is more man than him.
The next day, he meets Neha. She asks him why he has been ignoring her calls all week. He tells her what he did, and Neha asks him if it would have mattered if something had actually happened to her that night. Adi goes silent for a minute, but then he changes the topic by taking out a ring. He tells Neha that he has been carrying this with him since her birthday. As he is about to put it on her finger, she gives him the middle finger. To quote one of our favorite dialogues from another favorite series, “All it took was one gesture of courage to shatter centuries of patriarchy.” And that was the most beautiful ending that had us applauding Neha and the storyline. It was a gesture that literally changed our idea of who the real hero was in a matter of a second. A beautiful ending to a well-written story.
Final Thoughts- What Works For ‘Operation Romeo’?
Honestly, there is not a single dull moment in the entire film. We feel the terror of the couple when they are being blackmailed by Mangesh. We also rooted for Adi when he was out for revenge, even though we couldn’t help getting frustrated at this display of toxic masculinity. And oh God, the talent of the actors! Sharad Kelkar and Bhumika Chawla can make any role their own. But the way Siddhant Gupta owned the character of Adi—right from the shy, romantic boy to the brooding guy out for revenge, as well as the very creepy act of his in Mangesh’s house— We need to see more of him.
As far as the writing goes, it really caught the pulse of the awkward romance between the couple, from their terror later on, right down to Adi’s being triggered enough to set out to prove himself a man. The movie did not glorify his actions but showed them for what they were. And they did this by giving it the middle finger, literally, as most women have always wanted to towards such displays. The movie recognized that behavior like Adi’s is not romantic; it stems from a place of insecurity and outdated notions of what it means for one gender to be the “protector.” The absolute subtlety of the execution had our hearts. To sum it up, “Operation Romeo” was a delight to watch, and we want to see more of this type of content in the future. Also, Sharad Kelkar, Bhumika Chawla, and Siddhant Gupta need to be busier actors. Hope these two wishes come true.
“Operation Romeo” is a 2022 Indian Drama Thriller film directed by Shashant Shah.