Chambal review: A satisfying thriller

Chambal review: A satisfying thriller

Sathish Ninasam in Chambal

Film: Chambal 

Director: Jacob Verghese, 

Cast: Sathish Ninasam, Roger Narayan, Mahantesh, Sardar Satya. 

Stars: 3.5 


An air of mystery surrounds some biopics. Shielding their films from last minute hiccups, filmmakers vehemently deny a direct resemblance to one particular incident or individual. But, it's not hard to notice the similarities when they hit the screens. 

Mani Ratnam claimed his Guru isn't based on Dhirubhai Ambani's life. However, the story of an ambitious small-town youngster becoming one of India's biggest business tycoons played out like a tribute to Ambani. 

Chambal too battled controversy (minor) and had questions to answer. The makers rubbished reports that it's a take on IAS officer DK Ravi who was found dead at his residence under suspicious circumstances in 2015. So is Chambal Ravi's story? Well, you take a guess! 

With Chambal, director Jacob Verghese has developed a flair for creating believable worlds of honest men in civil service. The atmosphere that surrounds these upright officers and the barriers that pull them down is made genuine by Jacob. The portrayal was convincing in the Puneeth Rajkumar starrer-Pruthvi (2010). It is, for the most part, convincing in Chambal too.  

Subhash (Sathish Ninasam), a dedicated IAS officer, takes on men in power and aims to bring out their misdeeds in the open. He is proud of his duty and has a heart for the underprivileged. But is it a world for 'good' people?     

The films works well as a thriller. Looking at a run-time less than two hours, I wondered whether the host of characters revealed in the promos can sync well with the story. They do, thanks to the smart writing. Every scene feels real and keeps you invested. The dialogues, thankfully, aren't over the top.     

Chambal is also a film that believes it's important to provide satisfying time to its characters and not just magnify the lead. And the cast performs brilliantly here. Roger Narayan as the corrupt businessman, Achyuth Kumar as the unethical police officer and the duo of Mahantesh and Sardar Sathya as cold-blooded killers are terrific. They make you squirm and that's Chambal's biggest success.      

The unorthodox camera work and the decently gripping background score (Poornachandra Tejaswi and Judah Sandy)  keep Chambal on the move with good rhythm.  

Satish gets the body language of a sincere officer right. He is good with the powerful dialogues. But he fails to show the desperation and helplessness needed for the character. A better performance in that area could have added more grace to his role. 

The film's pace is also a problem at some places. Chambal is so fast that it forgets to breathe. Jacob isn't interested in the person in Subhash. He only dwells on the professional in him and that's a bit disappointing. One would have loved to know the journey that made him the fearless officer. Or how he, despite a hectic work-life, plays the role of a husband (to Sonu Gowda who is wasted).

Chambal isn't entirely moving but it's a satisfying thriller that keeps you engaged throughout.