Onto the next release of the weekend and I have finally finished watching the first of the two theatrical releases of the weekend, the highly anticipated Hindi film Chup. And I say finally because there were a couple of failed attempts prior to today – one during the “free” audience show which got sold out and the other on “National Cinema Day” which also was sold out. Nevertheless, my third attempt was successful and here I have a lot to pack in. So here we go.
Chup is directed by R Balki who is known for some interesting and innovative concepts in his films. All his films have a unique premise which are presented in a very different manner. It has been a while since I have been writing reviews even before Popcorn Reviewss had existed. It began with one liners on Facebook followed by one paragraphs. But my very first full length review was of the R Balki directed film Ki & Ka which I had written under the hashtag #FarhadMovieReviews(see if you guys can find it on Facebook😊). A lot has changed since and when I look back and revisit some of my older reviews, my writing has improved exponentially. And that has been thanks to Popcorn Reviewss. So when I am penning this review of R Balki’s latest film Chup, life has come a full circle for me!
I apologise for a very long introduction but this film demands it considering that it deals with the subject of the murders of film critics! Now this is reel but even if it were real should I be scared? Absolutely not! Because all my reviews are exactly what I feel for the film/series even though I may be accussed of going a little soft on films at times. This is because I too watch the film as an audience(and I am no different!). I will have a solid reasoning for every point which I do mention in my reviews and I am always open for a discussion around them in case of any disagreement(which is important as well to gain a perspective). And neither me nor anyone from Popcorn Reviewss does get paid for any reviews which we put out. These are honest reviews straight from the heart without any favouritism or hidden agendas! So we generally need and rely on your continued love and support for our small little world of Popcorn Reviewss!
Yet, it does bother me at times on how other critics may or may not have hidden agendas while they pen their review. Again it is okay to criticize a film provided the feedback is constructive and one should be mindful of not sabotaging the product. Yet at times the cracks are glaring and what is worse is that even the PRs favour them every single time despite negative reviews. Now I do not compare myself or anyone to anybody and I am in a very safe space and absolutely not insecured. But what if PRs start approaching some of the neutral critics or even small time ones for the film promotions who aren’t scared of providing a feedback positive or negative. The genuine community of feedback is important and something that we all can come together for it. Again I do not wish to gain specifically from this neither do I have any complaints. These are just basic thoughts that I wish to put across the table for a discussion of something that I love and we all love which is cinema. Also this ain’t a rant and this isn’t aimed at anyone specific! So lets back to the review of Chup! And these are my two cents on it!
Story & Screenplay
Chup follows the story of a psychopath on the loose who only murders film critics. Who is he and what is his motive? The story here might seem like an edge of the seat thriller from the onset(and yes, serial killer films are love❤) but if you look deeper, it is a satire on the opinions which are being floated on social media and media platforms by renowned critics. These days everyone is a critic and with that come multiple opinions which can hamper the film in totality. But the discussion isn’t restricted only to today’s times.
The best example of critics panning a film only to be later regarded as a masterpiece was the Guru Dutt directed film Kaagaz Ke Phool which is an absolute classic(and it has a lovely reference in this film as well). The gaze of watching a film is very important and being a film critic comes with a responsibility. And so the story of the film does highlight some key points all weaved in a brilliant thriller. The screenplay standing at a little over 2 hours ensures that the narrative is layered and not very straight forward.
The drama opens in a dramatic fashion. In a terrific opening sequence, the mystery is builtup with the right kind of setting until a body of a film critic is discovered. And thus begins the investigation which does seem organic right from the beginning. The non hurried screenplay ensures that the world building is done aptly where the audience are slowly sucked into the drama. Elsewhere, a parallel plotpoint almost opens the mystery straightaway signalling to the audience that this isn’t really a whodunnit but a whydunnit.
The tension is slowly builtup with the stakes being raised with every murder after a film release. The simultaneous plot point of a blossoming romance is integral to the overall drama. The proceedings are interesting and engrossing with a clever little satire well integrated in the screenplay. The twists and turns are subtle and at times predictable but it is an important message which is imparted through this twisted thriller. The point of discussion is balanced and never really targets or favours any one particular side.
Like in Brahmastra, the interval block is a good one here as well. The grand(and official) reveal does take place in a poetic yet violent scene which will be a kind of a spectacle of sorts if you happen to watch it on the big screen. The entire sequence will give you the chills in what is poetry in motion. And this is when the cat and mouse game begins.
The second hour is more about tying the loose ends together. There are several Guru Dutt references which in a way is a homage to his last film Kaagaz Ke Phool. There are a few clever meta references integrated in the screenplay. The two parallel plot points slowly begin to come together here seamlessly while the investigation will keep you on your toes. Having said that, the final act is where the drama does get a little too dramatic although very watchable.
The events leading up to it are well paced and well tied together. But the final act is in all honesty a tad underwhelming if I had to compare it to the full film. Yet, when the back story of the killer and his motive are revealed right at the end, it did leave me satisfied. So the final act despite being a tad underwhelming is saved by the terrific back story in a clever reference to Guru Dutt and his last film. So overall, the drama at the concept level is unique(speaking of which there is a nice reference to the adaptations which are doing the rounds as well) and quite well written!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are apt and will instantly make you ponder about how you consume cinema. A line which stayed with me was ” Films are meant to be felt. You do not need to care about how much the film has earned at the Box Office”(translated from Hindi to English). And this line made so much sense! A viewer shouldn’t worry about the numbers and just watch and feel the beauty of cinema. And this also applies to members of the Boycott Gang(no, not the trade analysts) who keep floating movie collections and equate it will the failure of the film.
The music is soulful and blends well with the drama. Some of the yesteryear songs are tactfully integrated in the drama, a couple of them end up being haunting. The BGM has a playful note to it(cleverly borrowed from an old classic) which does give you the chills every now and then. Also some sequences have a pulsating track which enhances the drama overall. The cinematography and colour tone are apt in setting the mood of the drama right. The editing is good but it could have been more sharper.
Director R Balki is a genius when it comes to trying something new. One look at his filmography and you will know that he always is willing to try out different concepts in his films. And most of them are successful and have found an audience. One small criticism that I had with his films was that he often did stumble in his final act while he would consistently peak two quarters into the film. And Chup is no different although the stumble is minor one this time. He is able to keep the audiences interested throughout only to let go fractionally here before picking himself up and recovering well. His direction is really good here although a part of me says that someone like a Sriram Raghavan would have taken the drama up, a notch further!
The performances are excellent here. It was a pleasure watching Pooja Bhatt who shines as Dr. Zenobia Shroff in a shining yet endearing extended cameo. Rajeev Ravindranathan as DSP Srinivas is wonderful to watch and his growth as a performer has been phenomenal. Also, I am enjoying him trying to dabble with multiple genres be it Rocketry early on in the year or now Chup. Dhruv Hiena Lohumi as Kartik is lovely to watch as well as Saranya Ponvannan who is uniquely affable as Nila’s mother. Sunny Deol as IG Arvind is wonderfully restrained and a far cry from his usual screaming self which was so refreshing to watch. I never thought that I would say that he was well restrained ever! Refreshing, really refreshing!
Shreya Dhanwanthary as Nila looks so pretty and does a brilliant job in a character that resonated the most with me in terms of her ideologies. Moments of how she would read out her first written reviews to her mother is something I had done initially too. And the way she expresses her love for cinema pretty much sums up what I feel as well. It was a terrific character and extremely well portrayed. But it is Dulquer Salmaan as Danny who will surprise you with his antics. While he had a charming trait to him, he will send a shiver down your spine in moments of his eccentric act. This was a different Dulquer Salmaan from the recently released Sita Ramam and this performance just shows the brilliant range that he has as a performer. Also his towering act was absolutely splendid to watch!
Chup is a high concept serial killer drama which is in a way an evil ode to the creatures called critics and it does make for a “bl*ody” good watch! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended!
PS : This has turned out to be one of my favourite reviews so if you have enjoyed reading it, please share it and spread the word(that will really help us a lot). And thanking you for your continued love and support! Hopefully we can grow together and form a community of cinephiles one day! Until then it is back to the drawing board for us every single time!