Review: It’s a nightmare for us film critics we never saw coming until co-writer and director R Balki came up with this novel idea of our tribe getting ruthlessly sliced for rating a film. A psycho-killer is on the loose targeting top movie critics and he could be just about anyone. A disgruntled filmmaker, a miffed actor or simply an ardent cinema lover. The cops led by inspector Arvind Mathur (Sunny Deol) are just as clueless because this serial killer makes no mistakes and kills his victim with a creative finesse.
At a concept level, Balki and his team of writers (Raja Sen and Rishi Virmani) have a virgin plot that focuses on the life of the film critics, whose vocation has never really been explored in Hindi cinema. He dedicates the first half in cooking up the story and building up the intrigue, quite brilliantly. So much so that the randomly infused love story of a lonely florist Danny (Dulquer Salmaan) and a novice entertainment reporter Nila (Shreya Dhanwanthary) doesn’t seem much of a distraction. But as the second half rolls in, it gets harder to care about the insipid love story between Danny and Nila. Sure, the screenplay tries its best to keep it all related to the core plot of the bloody killings, but the narrative starts to drag nonetheless. Now, all you can do is wait for the big reveal in the end, but in a Bollywood thriller that is seldom rewarding. And ‘Chup’ is no exception.
While the love story misses the mark, Balki’s own love for cinema doesn’t. He executes many a frame with exquisite shot taking (by cinematographer Vishal Sinha) and a hauntingly brilliant background score recreated from yesteryear chartbusters like ‘Jaane kya tune kahi’ and ‘Yeh Duniya agar mil bhi jaaye’ from Guru Dutt’s classic ‘Pyaasa’. This creates the mystical atmospherics that add more chills to the killer’s carefully crafted murders.
Dulquer Salmaan gives in his best to play a loner and a lover. One can see the actor’s struggle in juggling his complex character and he does a satisfactory job of it. Shreya Dhanwanthary (of Scam 1992 fame) struggles to play the woman in love while her role as a journalist has no scope to perform. Sunny Deol makes a smashing comeback. He plays the smart and dedicated investigating officer quite well with the required restraint. And it feels good to see him team up with Pooja Bhatt, who is back on the big screen in a supporting role. The customary Amitabh Bachchan cameo in this Balki film doesn’t feel out of place either. Tamil actress Saranya Ponvannan’s character of Nila’s progressive mother is a hoot.
‘Chup’ is gritty as well as glossy – a classic contrast that would have obviously been quite exciting on paper. Only if its execution would have been just as sharp as its killer’s knife, it would have silenced the biggest of its critics.