CHEHRE is the story of a man who faces a tough time when faced with retired law professionals. Sameer Mehra (<a href="https://www.bollywoodhungama.com/celebrity/emraan-hashmi/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Emraan Hashmi</a>) is the chief of an ad agency called 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 from the hill town despite heavy snow. On the way, he takes a short cut to Delhi but due to a tree fall, he gets stuck. On top of it, his car suddenly breaks down. He then meets Paramjeet Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor) who advises him to join him to a friend’s place till it’s safe to go. Paramjeet takes him to the house of Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee) where Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) is already present. Soon, Lateef Zaidi (<a href="https://www.bollywoodhungama.com/celebrity/amitabh-bachchan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Amitabh Bachchan</a>) also joins them. The quartet then informs Sameer that they meet everyday and play a unique game. As part of this game, they conduct a mock trial since all of them are retired law professionals. While Jagdish Acharya was a retired judge in a nearby court, Paramjeet was defence counsel and Lateef was chief prosecutor. They invite Sameer to play this game. Sameer agrees. The quartet tells him that he’ll be the accused in their court of law. Paramjeet would defend him while Lateef would try to prove that he’s guilty. Jagdish, meanwhile, would be the judge. Lateef gives Sameer a chance to confess if he has ever done any crime and got away with it. Then they’ll try him for that charge. Sameer, however, confidently tells that he has never committed any crime. Lateef then gets a chance to try him for any crime he desires. In the course of their conversation, Sameer blurts out that he used to detest his ex-boss, G S Oswal (Samir Soni) as he was a tyrant. Sameer also reveals that Oswal died recently and that he took over his position. At this, Lateef decides to try him in their court for the ‘murder’ of Oswal. Sameer is aghast and makes it clear that he hasn’t killed him. But Lateef tells the court that he’s willing to put his legal reputation at stake and that he’ll never play this game ever again if he fails to prove that Sameer hasn’t been a part of Oswal’s ‘murder’. Sameer is a bit apprehensive but then he realizes he need not worry as it’s just a game. But his worries vanish instantly when he finds out that Hariya Jatav was not a lawyer or judge. He was actually a hangman and that he has kept the noose ready, should the accused is proven guilty in their court! What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Ranjit Kapoor's story is inspired from Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt's acclaimed novel 'A Dangerous Game' and is very interesting and unique. Ranjit Kapoor and Rumy Jafry's screenplay is effective for most parts, especially in the first half. But the writing loses grip in the second half, more so towards the pre-climax. Ranjit Kapoor and Rumy Jafry's dialogues are sharp at several places. The 13-minute-long monologue, however, fails to make the desired impact and should have been shorter and should have had the required punch.
Rumy Jafry's direction is impressive. For a director who has made light-hearted entertainers in the past to direct a thriller so well is praiseworthy. This is a challenging film as it’s mostly set in one house. But he introduces the characters and their traits very well. The manner in which they take Sameer into confidence is very convincing. In fact, there are no complaints in the first half as the way he builds up the tension makes for a thrilling experience. Problem arises in the second half as it seems dragging. Also, the climax should have been better and nail-biting. The monologue also spoils the narrative. In the past, Amitabh Bachchan had rocked the show with the ‘No Means No’ dialogue in PINK . It was shorter and far more impactful. Something on those lines was required here but sadly, the monologue turns out to be never-ending and even goes off track. The other problem with the film is that it’s quite dialogue-heavy. The makers have tried their best to infuse drama and tension wherever possible. But even then, audiences are not used to such a narrative and setting. Hence, a subject like this is experimental and would appeal to mostly urban and niche audiences.
Speaking of performances, Amitabh Bachchan as usual is excellent and suits the part. His dialogue-delivery is obviously commendable but he’s very impressive in the scenes where he’s simply observing and planning his next wise move. Emraan Hashmi is the surprise of the film. He has always been a great performer but here, he steals the show and stands up in front of the veteran actors. Also, he looks quite dashing. Annu Kapoor is dependable as always and its funny how he pronounces certain words and terms. Dhritiman Chatterjee has limited dialogues but leaves a mark. Raghubir Yadav has a unique look and adds to the madness, especially at the intermission point. Krystle Dsouza is another surprise of the film. Rhea Chakraborty (Anna) has an important part and initially, she appears a bit caricaturish. But then it becomes clear that her character is a bit mentally unstable. She is memorable in two scenes – one, where she almost stabs Emraan, and two, when Emraan asks her for the keys. Siddhant Kapoor (Joe) has no dialogues but speaks through his eyes. Samir Soni looks dull while Alexx O'Nell (Richard) gets no scope.
There are only 2 songs in the film. The title track fails to impress while <em>'Rang Dariya'</em> is forgettable. Clinton Cerejo's background score is subtle yet intriguing. Binod Pradhan's cinematography is superb. A subject like this might lead people to think that they are watching a play on stage. But thanks to the lensman and the way he has captured the shots, it doesn’t feel so. Priya Suhas' production design also deserves brownie points for giving the film a cinematic feel. Shivam Vikram Kapoor's costumes are realistic yet appealing. Redefine's VFX is good in several scenes but weak in the climax. Bodhaditya Banerjee's editing should have been tighter in the second half.
On the whole, CHEHRE is a well-made film which rests on a unique plot and bravura performances. However, due to the lengthy second half and the experimental nature of the subject, the film will appeal mainly to the multiplex audiences.
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