WBRi Movie Review: Alok Roy's Chaal (2012) Bengali Film - The Game Begins

Chaal - The Game Begins (2012) Bengali Film Poster on a Wall in Calcutta
A poster of Chaal in Calcutta

Kolkata, Feb 11, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio/ Penning Creations) Making a nice, entertaining movie with a limited budget is no mean task. Indeed, many films with decent enough story-lines fail to make much headway as far as their theatrical businesses are concerned, simply because they are made on a stringent budget and have only mediocre production values. Gone are the days when filmmakers could rely solely on a sound script to ensure success at the box-office. Indeed, packaging a film in a glossy, attractive manner has become equally (or perhaps, more!) important for directors to make sure that their movies would not, at least, go unnoticed by the viewers.

Song from Chaal The Game Begins - Disk E Cholo

The recent successes of movies like ‘Aparajita Tumi’ and ‘Khokababu’ (movies of two completely different genres) have once again highlighted the importance of maintaining a certain degree of polish and style in filmmaking, while, of course, ensuring that the film has a storyline that is captivating enough to lure the audience to the movie halls.

Alok Roy, who is yet to deliver a major hit (his previous flick, ‘Premer Kothakoli’ was a distinctly average fare) makes a comeback with his latest directorial venture, ‘Chaal - The Game Begins’. Will ‘Chaal’, produced under the banner of Artage, be able to deliver the goods for director Alok Roy? Apparently not, for the film is rather ordinary!

‘Chaal-The Game Begins’ tells the story of a police officer (Tota Roychowdhury) and two close friends (Saheb Chatterjee and Premjit Mukherjee). Life was going along quite smoothly for them (so much so that the viewers in the theatre were getting rather bored!). However, as is often the rule in commercial flicks, the main protagonists simply cannot have quiet, uneventful lives. The cop and the two young men unwillingly get into a chain of events that seem to engulf their very beings and make them feel as if they were standing on the very precipices of their lives.

Will the three men, with the help of the other characters, be able to get out of the web that they find themselves trapped in? The answer lies on the big screen!

‘Chaal-The Game Begins’ features solid, if not remarkable, performances from the main members of its cast. Tota Roychowdhury looks convincing as a strict and upright police officer. The man has considerable screen presence and uses it to good effect to stand head and shoulders above the other actors in the movie. It is high time (some might even be of the opinion that the time has gone!) that Roychowdhury started selecting his films with greater care, if he wants to make a mark in the Tollywood industry. It is rather sad to see Tota Roychowdhury, who delivered such a masterclass in ‘Chokher Bali’, trying to (practically on his own!) salvage the muddled script of ‘Chaal.’ To his credit, Roychowdhury emerges from this film with his acting reputation untarnished.

Saheb Chatterjee, one of the most popular character artists in the Bengali film circles, comes up with a relatively credible performance. Saheb had already proved his acting prowess with stellar acts in ‘Mon Amour - Shesher Kobita Revisited’ and, more importantly, in Sandip Ray’s ‘Hitlist’. The young actor is in fine fettle in ‘Chaal’ too, with his intense style of dialog delivery meeting the exact requirements of his character in this film. The fact that Saheb’s character is somewhat half-baked in ‘Chaal’ does not, however, does not help the cause of the actor.

Premjit Mukherjee, who had a brief cameo in the 2010 Dev-starrer superhit ‘Sedin Dekha Hoyechhilo’, fails to impress in his first full-fledged role in ‘Chaal-The Game Begins.’ Mukherjee comes across as rather stiff in his role and his emoting skills have considerable scopes for improvement too. In a movie that depends solely on the performances of its lead actors, Mukherjee is a relative letdown.

Pallabi Chatterjee makes a comeback to the big screen after a brief hiatus with ‘Chaal’ and is as reliable as ever in her role. Arunima Ghosh looks pretty and glamourous, but has little else to do in the film. Given the fact that Arunima is one of the most talented among the current crop of young actresses in Tollywood, this somewhat comes as a surprise. Dolon Ray and Wriju Biswas are just about okay in their characters. Dulal Lahiri hams his lines. The others (in rather miniscule roles!) are just about passable.

The main problem with ‘Chaal-The Game Begins’ is its relatively low production value. In a world of the glitzy, big-budget releases, viewers are increasingly getting used to see sophisticated moviemaking techniques on the big screen and ‘Chaal’ falls way short of the mark on that count. The movie itself is a tale of two halves – with the first half being interesting enough to keep the viewers mildly interested. The film, however, goes steadily downhill in the post-interval period, as the lengthy (and heavy!) conversations seem to spoil the overall feeling of suspense and anticipation in the movie. The screenplay is jerky (particularly so in the second half) and the plot twists are mostly predictable and rather stale. The keen eye for detail of director Alok Roy shines through in several sequences of the movie though and his efforts to make an interesting movie out of a mundane storyline is praiseworthy indeed. Dialogs, penned by Roy himself, are rather lacklustre and trite, which adds to the dreary nature of the film.

The musical score of ‘Chaal-The Game Begins’ is another source of disappointment. Music directors Kalyan Sen Barat, Rohan Ganguli and Raj Kumar come up with songs that, unfortunately, have no recall value whatsoever. The pedestrian lyrics, by Amitabh Bhattacharya and Mainak Singha, do not help matters either. Debashish Ray’s camerawork is okay (particularly considering that ‘Chaal’ is not the most lavishly produced film!). The action sequences, choreographed by Judo-Ramu, rank as some of the (rare!) high points of the movie.

Director Alok Roy makes a sincere attempt of making a smart and entertaining suspense flick with ‘Chaal-The Game Begins.’ The movie is, however, bogged down by moderate performances, tetchy screenplay, lame plot twists and a forgettable musical score. With a certain ‘Nobel Chor’ scheduled to make his appearance in a week’s time, ‘Chaal’ does not seem to have much of a scope of scoring at the box-office.

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