“Sting” owes an enormous debt to the Ariel Dorfman play (and Polanski film) “Death and the Maiden;” it’s largely a retelling of that dramatic thriller in India. Despite a trio of strong perfs and a well-maintained sense of suspense, “Sting” is a longshot to travel.
Kanika Verma’s debut feature unfolds in the Indian state of Mizoram, which, a prologue shows, fought a long war for independence. Some years later, with the Mizo National Front having signed a treaty with the Indian government, former revolutionary Mathew (Kay Kay Menon) is now a peace advocate. His wife and former soldier Maria (Sonali Kulkarni) was tortured and raped in the war. When a kindly doctor (Aditya Srivastava) spends an evening at their home, Maria insists he was her captor. She sets about inflicting revenge on the doctor, although he denies her claims. Bulk of the pic unfolds in that single night. To her credit, Verma keeps the audience guessing until the end, and intersperses scenes of torture with sober philosophical arguments about the consequences of terrorism and revenge. Heavyhanded political allegory notwithstanding, “Sting” offers some affecting moments of power and drama.