Review: Chehre is a well made film with a unique storyline and great performances. However, due to the experimental nature of the long second half theme, this film will be especially liked by the multiplex audience. Rating : 3 stars
Chehre is the story of a man who goes through a tough time with retired law professionals. Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) is the head of an ad agency named Paradoy. He goes to a hill station somewhere in the north for an ad shoot. But due to a work commitment in Delhi, he leaves the hill town despite heavy snowfall. On the way he goes to Delhi by a short cut but gets stuck due to a falling tree. On top of this his car suddenly breaks down. He then meets Paramjit Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor), who advises him to come to his friend’s place until all is well. Paramjeet takes her to the house of Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee) where Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) is already present. Soon, Latif Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan) also joins them. The quartet then tells Sameer that they meet everyday and play a unique game. As part of this game, they do a mock trial as they are all retired law professionals. Jagdish Acharya was a retired judge in the nearby court, Paramjit was the defense lawyer and Latif was the chief prosecutor. They invite Sameer to play this game. Sameer agrees. The four tell him that he will be the accused in their court. Paramjeet will defend him while Latif will try to prove that he is guilty. Meanwhile, Jagdish will be the judge. Latif gives Sameer a chance to confess if he ever committed any crime and leaves him. Then they will try him for that charge. Sameer, however, confidently states that he has never committed any crime. Latif gets a chance to prosecute him for the crime he wants. During their conversation, Sameer said that he hated his former boss, GS Oswal (Sameer Soni) because he was a tyrant. Sameer also revealed that Oswal died recently and he took over. On this Latif decided to present Oswal in his court for ‘murder’. Sameer is shocked and clarifies that he has not killed her. But Latif tells the court that he is ready to put his legal reputation at stake and will never play the game again if he fails to prove that Sameer is not part of Oswal’s ‘murder’. . Sameer is a bit apprehensive but then he realizes that he need not worry as it is just a game. But his worries are immediately dispelled when he learns that Hariya Jatav was not a lawyer or a judge. He was actually a hangman and has kept the noose ready, should the accused be proved guilty in their court! What happens next will be known after watching the full movie.
The story of Ranjit Kapoor is inspired by the acclaimed novel ‘A Dangerous Game’ by Swiss author Friedrich Durenmatt and is very interesting and unique. The screenplay by Ranjit Kapoor and Rumi Jaffrey is effective for most of the parts, especially in the first half. But the writing gets loose in the second half, especially towards the pre-climax. The dialogues of Ranjit Kapoor and Rumi Jaffrey are sharp at many places. The monologue, 13 minutes long, fails to make the desired impact and should have been shorter and had the required punch.
Rumi Jaffrey’s direction is impressive. For a director who has made light-hearted entertaining films in the past, directing a thriller is praiseworthy. It is a challenging film as it is mostly set in a house. But he introduces the characters and their characteristics very well. The way they take Sameer into confidence is commendable. In fact, there are no complaints in the first half because the way it creates tension makes for a thrilling experience. There is a problem in the second half because it feels like stretching. Also, the climax should have been better and curiosity-generating. Monologues also spoil the story. Amitabh Bachchan has pink in the past.  I rocked the show with the dialogue ‘No Means No’. It was smaller and far more impressive. But the never-ending monologue shown here seems like an off-track. The other problem with the film is that it seems to be full of heavy dialogues. The makers have tried their best to increase the drama and tension wherever possible. But still, the audience is not used to this kind of story and setting. Therefore, this kind of theme is experimental and will appeal mostly to urban and niche audiences.
The face starts on a great note. Amitabh Bachchan’s entry is worth clapping. The exchange of dialogues here is very smooth and reassuring. The way Latif manages to conclude that Sameer is a criminal, through his experience of asking the right questions and through the power of his observation, binds the film. The intermission point is shocking. The second half begins with an interesting twist. Sameer and Natasha’s (Krystal D’Souza) flashback is refreshing as it gives viewers a break from the four walls of the mansion where the film is set. Initially, it is captivating but at the end of the flashback, the film becomes predictable. The twist in the final scene of the film is quite impressive and helps to end the film on a good note.
Talking about the acting, Amitabh Bachchan is as excellent as ever and suits his character. His dialogue-delivery is obviously commendable, but he looks very impressive in the scenes where he just stares and is planning his next wise move. Emraan Hashmi is the surprise of this film. He has always been a prolific performer but here, he takes the lead and stands out amongst all the legendary actors. Also, he looks quite dashing as well. Annu Kapoor is as dependable as ever and it is fun to see how he pronounces certain words and terms. Dhritiman Chatterjee’s dialogues are limited but leave a mark. Raghubir Yadav has a unique look that adds to the madness, especially at the intermission point. Krystle D’Souza has another surprise from the film. Rhea is an important part of Chakraborty (Anna) and in the beginning, she looks a bit sarcastic. But then it becomes clear that his character is a bit mentally unstable. She looks memorable in two scenes – one, where she nearly stabs Imran, and two, when Imran asks her for the key. Siddhant Kapoor (Joe) has no dialogues but speaks with his eyes. Sameer Soni looks dull while Alex O’Neal (Richard) doesn’t get much scope.
There are only 2 songs in the film. The title track fails to impress while ‘Rang Dariya’ is forgettable. Clinton Cerejo’s background score is light but interesting. Binod Pradhan’s cinematography is superb. A subject like this can lead people to think they are watching a play in the theatre. But the way the lensman has taken the shots, it doesn’t seem like it and for that he deserves praise. The production design of Priya Suhas for giving the cinematic feel to the film also deserves praise. Shivam Vikram Kapoor’s costume is realistic as well as charming. Redefin’s VFX is good in many scenes but weak in the climax. Bodhaditya Banerjee’s editing should have been tighter in the second half.
Overall, Chehre is a well-made film with a unique storyline and stellar performances. However, due to the experimental nature of the long second half theme, this film will be especially liked by the multiplex audience.