The pandemic has kept people away from theatres for a long time. However, Bollywood doesn’t seem to be in a mood to offer quality content to motivate people to rush to theatres. My experience of watching a preview of the Amitabh Bachhan and Emran Hashmi starrer ‘Chehre’ was a damper.
The plot of the movie includes Sameer Mehra (Emran Hashmi) dashing through the mountains lathered with snow and pine trees in some remote Indian hill station. As his journey comes to a halt due to some unpredictable circumstances, he bumps into Paramjeet Singh Bhuller (Annu Kapoor) and accepts his offer to seek refuge in his friend Jagdish Acharya's (Dhritiman Chatterjee) massive home with vintage aesthetics. The house is replete with high ceilings and the guest house is adorned with renaissance-era paintings made by Anna (Rhea Chakraborty). She is also the housekeeper and happens to be a painter and has a creepy unreal laugh. Here, Mehra meets Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachhhan) and Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav). These four old buddies are retired court officials, one was a judge (Dhritiman Chatterjee), one was a prosecutor (Amitabh Bachhan), one was a defence lawyer (Annu Kapoor) and one was an executioner (Raghubir Yadav). In this mansion, they like to play a game in which they conduct mock trials while playing roles respective to their earlier professions and if any stranger happens to be at the place, they’d be a part of it too. As Mehra stays at the mansion for the night, he plays along with these men too. Starting out with a fun spirit, the game gets consequential.
The plot is surely something that would look promising on paper and also befits a good thriller novel story. However, in the execution, the movie falls flat because of the screenplay and even the likes of Annu Kapoor, Amitabh Bachhan and Emran Hashmi barely manage to save it with their acting chops. The sad part is that it is an ambitious venture but isn’t fully aware of its motives.
The film starts with a thrilling plotline and keeps you hooked in the first half however plateaus in the second. There have been movies made around the themes of the justice system of India and its inefficiencies. Chehre, along with these themes also delves into the blacks and whites of right and wrong and the definition of ‘justice’ itself. It tries to make its point but fails in its grammar and execution.
While the acting department is the saving grace, a weak script does little to do justice. Disappointment is the material provided to them. Raghubir Yadav might give you some small laughs with his short role, though he could have been utilized more. Amitabh Bachhan is, well, Amitabh Bachhan. The earnesty in his roles, especially the movies done in the past decade is commendable. The lawyer role that he etched in Pink is still fresh in the minds of moviegoers. His speech where he talks about the word ‘No’ is something that gave goosebumps to the audience and for all the right reasons. A similar effort is also made here with Bachhan giving a very long monologue as his closing statement which is supposed to be the part that compels the audience to listen and think but sadly, that is when you’ll lose all your attention, you’ll find yourself focusing more on the popcorn than on the screen. The same magic of pink is absent even in shades of grey. Hashmi has put in an effort and it shows. Krystle D’Souza tries but fails to leave a memorable mark. Rhea Chakroborty and Siddhant Kappr as housekeepers don’t have much to do but err remain housekeepers.
For most part, Chehre is set in the mansion where the game is played which limits the scope of the director and as a director, you have to be smart to use the setting to good use. The music is forgettable at the best.
In the end, the movie doesn’t leave any loose ends but you just stop caring till then. Also, when the backstories of the two housekeepers are told, we expect them to contribute in some way to what is happening on the screen but sadly they don’t.
If you really want to go and watch a movie in theatres after this long and an average thriller might do for you, you can watch Chehre. Otherwise, wait for something more promising to come which is totally worth watching on the big screen. Till then ‘Chehre’ despite its stellar line up is only a mask.