WBRi Movie Review: Chalis Chaurasi (Hindi, 2012) – A low-key movie that mixes subtle doses of wit, humor and fun

Bhojpuri Movie Hero Ravi Kishan, Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni in Chalis Chaurasi

Calcutta, Jan 14, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) As most filmmakers would agree, comedy is serious business. Too much of slapstick, low-brow humor results in duds like ‘Rascals’, while if the humor in the movie is too subtle, it might not be appreciated (or even, detected!) by the average cinegoers. When a director decides to make a fun film, it is of critical importance that he chooses a strong script and adds in just the right mix of fun, wit and humor, in order to ensure success at the box-office. Given the tricky nature of making a genuinely funny film, not many of the new-age movie makers have ventured into this genre. ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’, the latest offering from the stable of MAASK Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, is a brave attempt to explore the world of dark, satirical humor. The director of the film, Hriday Shetty, already had the critically acclaimed ‘Pyar Mein Twist’ (2005) in his kitty and one expected ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ to be funny and enjoyable too. This interestingly titled film does not disappoint either!

‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ tells the story of four policemen and their adventures on a fateful night. ‘Pankaj Suri’ (Naseeruddin Shah), ‘Bhaskar Sardesai’ (Atul Kulkarni), ‘Albert Pinto’ (Kay Kay Menon) and ‘Shakti Chinappa’ (Ravi Kissen), while chatting amongst themselves inside a police van (whose number plate reads MH-02 A-4084), hatch an apparently foolproof plan to successfully complete a mission that they have been entrusted with. If everything goes according to their plan, the four of them would become famous and would never have to worry about a thing in future. The men consider themselves as tough cops and have immense confidence in their abilities – so much so that it seems that success is waiting for them just round the corner.

Trailer: Chalis Chaurasi (Hindi, 2012)

However, things take an unexpected (and thoroughly unpleasant, as far as our four protagonists are concerned!) turn, when another policeman, in hot pursuit of a dangerous criminal, stops MH-02 A-4084 and takes along ‘Pankaj’, ‘Bhaskar’, ‘Albert’ and ‘Shakti’ as his backup in this evidently dangerous chase. What started out as a fairly simple route to good fortune becomes an uncertain and risky assignment. A series of unforeseen (and extremely testing!) situations follow as the night unfolds and each of the leading men discover a certain truth about themselves – something they have been hiding under a facade of toughness for long. How will the night end? Will the four cops be able to achieve the success that they crave so much for? Viewers can find that out at the theatres!

The storyline of ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ is captivating and it manages to capture the attention of the audience almost through the entire length of the film. The unique storytelling technique, coupled with smart screenplay and witty dialogs (penned by Vinay-Yash) help to move the film along at a fast pace. The plot twists and turns are handled quite deftly by director Hriday Shetty, who deserves kudos for never letting the unexpected surprises, which keep on springing up during the course of the night, seem absurd. The simple ambitions and desire for success for the four lead characters of the film is entirely believable too.

Performance-wise, ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ stands pretty much on stable grounds. Naseeruddin Shah, as ‘Pankaj Suri/Sir’ once again comes up with a top-notch performance. The veteran actor, fresh from his stellar act in ‘The Dirty Picture’, is in fine fettle here too, reminding one and all why he is regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation. Kay Kay Menon, as ‘Pinto/Albert Pinto’, does full justice to his role. His poker-faced dialog delivery style is in perfect sync with the requirements of the cinema and the actor has some of the best lines in the movie. Atul Kulkarni, as ‘Bobby/Bhaskar Sardesai’, puts in a restrained performance, complementing the roles of Naseeruddin and Kay Kay in the best possible manner. Ravi Kissen, as ‘Shakti/Shakti Chinappa’ is, however, irritating. His performance, in fact, strikes a jarring note in this otherwise well-enacted movie. Rajesh Sharma is top-notch. Zakir Hussain is adequate, but only just. Manoj Pahwa and Reetu Jain are wasted.

‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ showcases a brand of humor that is subtle, understated and situational. It is indeed refreshing to see a director not reverting to cheap gimmicks or slapstick sequences to make his audience laugh. While front-benchers might just miss where the director is coming from, the classes would surely appreciate the undercurrent of fun and humor that runs through the entire length of the movie. The sensitive scenes, in the second half of the movie, have also been handled rather well by Shetty. The background score of the film, by Sanjay Chowdhury, adds to the feeling of drama and anticipation of the movie.

For a movie that has more than its fair share of positive points, the promotions of ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ has been, surprisingly, an extremely low-key affair. Lalit Pandit and Vishal Ranjan, the music directors of the film, do a poor job, and the absence of a single hummable track do not help the cause of the movie at all. One feels sorry for Sonu Nigam and Daler Mehndi, who lend their voices to some of the most ordinary tracks in their illustrious musical careers. In the current scenario, where the presence of a big star and/or a blockbuster song is so critical for the success of a movie at the box-office, ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ takes a hit on both counts.

‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ is a brave and innovative attempt on the part of director Hriday Shetty to showcase his expertise over movies belonging to the genre of dark humour. Expectations from this movie were, admittedly, pretty low, but the film comes as a pleasant surprise to all with a smartly interwoven tale of law and crime, that manages to tickle the funny bones of sensitive moviegoers. The lack of proper promotion and the extremely poor musical score, however, stands in the way of ‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ from getting a decent opening at the box-office. Pity really, for the film deserved better.

‘Chaalis Chauraasi’ once again proves that, simply making a good film is not enough to ensure its theatrical success. Marketing the movie properly plays an equally, if not more, important role in determining its collections!

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