Movie Review

Chehre review: An undercooked, stodgy plot spoils the Emraan Hashmi, Amitabh Bachchan starrer

Chehre movie cast: Emraan Hashmi, Amitabh Bachchan, Annu Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Dhritimaan Chatterjee, Rhea Chakrabarty, Krystle D’Souza, Sidhant Kapoor, Samir Soni
Chehre movie director: Rumi Jafry
Chehre movie rating: One and a half stars

Looking at this dream cast, stalwarts with a sprinkling of newbies comprising so many interesting ‘chehre’, you go in with more than zero expectations. But ‘Chehre’ dashes all those comprehensively, because an undercooked, stodgy plot doesn’t a good film make, even with the best ensemble in the world.

Take the beginning, if you will. It is about 200 odd kms away from Delhi, according to a milestone. On a snowy mountain bend, a swanky BMW being driven by the swankily-dressed Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) comes to a screeching halt. First off, the kind of icy terrain the film would have us believe in exists only at double the distance or more from the national capital. Don’t be like that, you tell yourself, maybe the film is making some kind of surreal point, but alas, there isn’t much of a one to this whole pointless exercise filled with empty theatrics. Which includes a deserted house and an assorted bunch of elderly men (Amitabh Bachchan, Annu Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Dhritimaan Chatterjee) clomping about, talking of law and justice and handing out a sentence to a man who believes that he is innocent of everything except ambition.

Thought and expense has been spent on creating the right atmospherics. The house has wood panels decorated with antlers, long ceilings, large fireplace, and a pretty helper (Rhea Chakraborty) who looks straight out of a mysterious Alpine resort. Clearly, these men–old friends and colleagues at the bar– have been expecting the stranger who thinks he is here by happenstance, and the scene looks set for an engaging crime-and-punishment tale, but there’s never a sense of the rising menace and tension that should have been an integral part of this kind of story.

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The veterans sit around and exchange lines which don’t land: Bachchan, who is given a ‘friendly appearance’ in the credits, delivers a thunderous, never-ending speech which touches upon the Nirbhaya case and other heinous crimes against women, which sounds impressive but feels fully extraneous. What a waste of Bachchan’s presence who reminds us just how fantastic it is to hear an actor speak with such command over the language, with such fluidity. Annu Kapoor gets a moment or two, but neither Raghubir Yadav, in a strange wig and a hangman’s rope, nor the urbane Dhritimaan Chatterjee with his gavel, are given their due. Rhea Chakrabarty is handed a high-pitched giggle, and Sidhant Kapoor, who plays a mute with a sharp axe, has a grin meant to be shiver-inducing.

Hashmi, togged out in fancy fur coats and Louis Vuitton bags, is given a backstory which gets the film into Delhi’s nightclubs, farmhouses and golf-course, in which his ‘crime’ is laid out, involving an overbearing boss (Soni), his attractive wife (Krystle D’Souza), and a murder disguised as a natural death. His is the case of lots of screen time for a talented actor, with nothing new in the way he comes at his part.

Arrayed in front of judge, jury and executioner, a deluded man being confronted with his real self should have been a rivetting experience. But I have to sympathise with a character who says: main thak gaya hoon, pak gaya hoon, jaane do mujhe. Or words to that effect. We hear you, bud.

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