Charlie Ke Chakkar Mein review: A dopey whodunnit

Charlie Ke Chakkar Mein
Manish Srivastav
Naseeruddin Shah, Anand Tiwari

Charlie Ke Chakkar Mein has all the elements of a great indie thriller — hallucinatory drug haze, wayward youngsters, forbidden sex, cops in shades of grey tied to sleazy villains, a tickingtime-bomb narrative style to keep you on the edge of your seat.

It’s even got a superb cast in Naseeruddin Shah, Anand Tiwari and Amit Sial. But Manish Srivastav’s debut film is like that sad dish that takes all your great ingredients and your enthusiasm and turns them into an underwhelming mess.

The story is fairly straightforward — a shipment of drugs goes missing, and everyone connected to it is baying for the blood of those who stole it while simultaneously trying desperately to chase it down.

Sanket Pujari (Shah), the cop assigned to the case, stumbles upon an unusual lead — video tapes that showcase a group of youngsters (Tiwari, Sial and gang) drinking and shooting up, and also some sort of a basement where people are being shot.

The film shifts jaggedly between the video footage and the cop’s investigation, as the latter uncovers a larger conspiracy at play.

The problem lies in how predictable that larger conspiracy is. Each twist can be seen a mile away, and still is made to play out with all the intensity of an earth-shattering revelation. Long after the audience has figured out the whodunit, supercop Pujari is still struggling to piece together the ‘puzzle’.

To make matters worse, the film is peppered with corny scenes such as the one where Pujari is serviced by a cooing, scantily clad starlet, in something straight out of a crummy Z-grade flick. Sadly, the script isn’t self-aware enough to pass for subversion. This movie is just stuck between a rock and a hard place — too serious to qualify as grindhouse feature, too silly to be an entertaining thriller. Fans of either genre will likely find themselves underwhelmed.

Except for Tiwari, none of the other actors manages to keep you interested. The attempts at depicting the ‘contemporary youth’ wear out their welcome in a jiffy, the montages of cocaine-snorting, heroin-injection, gunplay and titillation becoming rather tiresome rather fast. It’s an achievement that such a small indie film managed to secure a theatrical release, but this film fails to capitalise on that opportunity.

Anyone who has seen just a handful of thrillers is likely to be bored; even those new to such films are unlikely to experience any surprise. All in all, the most entertaining element is probably the trippy graffiti plastered all over that spooky basement. Makes you wish the whole movie could have been that much fun.

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