Chehre review: Bachchan saving grace in this insipid drama

'Chehre' aspires to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller but fails miserably
Last Updated : 27 August 2021, 16:16 IST
Last Updated : 27 August 2021, 16:16 IST

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Hindi (theatres)

Director: Rumy Jaffery

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Emran Hashmi, Rhea Chakraborty

“This decadence of human values and humanity, your honour, has to stop. It must stop,” thunders Amitabh Bachchan as public prosecutor Lateef Zaidi in 'Chehre'.

Hamari adalato me justice nahi, judgement hotha hain, insaaf nahi, faisla hotha hain (in our courts, we get judgement and not justice),” the thespian concludes in his baritone with remarkable finality in a 12-minute monologue towards the end, the definitive highlight of an otherwise insipid and incoherent film.

It reminds one of similarly poignant scenes from Bachchan’s earlier films like 'Baghban' and 'Sarkar Raj'. But unlike the earlier two films, here the monologue is thrust into the narrative out of desperation rather than design. Luckily, it works to a great extent, thanks to Bachchan as he underlines the ugly underbelly of our unwieldy judicial system in his unique style.

'Chehre' aspires to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller but a toxic combination of an improbable storyline (Ranjit Kapoor), inane screenplay and impassive direction (Rumi Jafry) reduces it to an irritating run-of-the-mill fair.

It’s all about four retired law protectors enacting mock trials of some of their famous cases in a faraway mansion under snow capped hills. It’s not just a game for them but a passion and a favourite pastime.

Ad man Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) becomes an unwitting victim of their game after he gets stuck in extreme weather. So far so good, and gripping too at times.

But the writer and director lose their grip when the need was to tighten it and, as a result, the film degenerates into a senseless escapade and ends preposterously. Thus, 'Chehre' (Faces) becomes a faceless film after a promising start.

Bachchan again towers over the rest with effortless ease. With a distinct look, his flowing beard in a single braid, which is a mix of his other roles in his recent films like 'Wazir', 'Pink' and 'Badla', he gets to bite on another meaty role; and he does it with panache.

The underrated Hashmi could have lived the role of an unwitting victim with some flair and finesse but he resorts to exaggerated mannerisms and unnecessary grimacing.

The rest of the top class star cast is thoroughly wasted or, even worse, reduced to a cartoon. Veteran and proven talent Raghubir Yadav as a professional hangman is, for some inexplicable reason, shown carrying a readymade noose in his handbag. He even runs with it in the hilarious climax!

Anu Kapoor, fresh from his success in a similar role in 'Jolly LLB 2', does not get the same space or length as Bachchan to leave an imprint while Dhritiman Chatterjee (as the judge) and Siddhanth Kapoor (as the servant) are further restrained by a script full of loopholes.

The only two women characters in the film have limited screen presence but have a pivotal role in the plot. Rhea Chakraborty as the mysterious maid who can cook a hot soup and paint a masterpiece with equal ease is unblinking at best and stoic most of the time.

Krystal D’Souza, who comes only in the second-half, makes the most of her limited screen time and provides glimpses of both her chiseled body and potent talent.

“Bus karo yeh khel, main thakgaya hun aur pakkgaya hun (stop this game, I am tired and mad),” screams Hashmi soon after Bachchan’s monologue at the end. In hindsight, Hashmi seems to be saying it a bit too late.

For the protagonists of this film, conducting mock trials may be their favourite pastime but for the paying public it is nothing short of a punishment.

Published 27 August 2021, 14:44 IST

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