Mumbai, 27 Aug 2021 11:39 IST
Updated: 01 Sep 2021 11:24 IST
Rumy Jafry's first stab at the thriller genre could have been a triumph but for the ending.
Rumy Jafry has gained a reputation as a comedy specialist within the Hindi film industry due to his long stint as a writer of David Dhawan’s movies, most of which were made in the 1990s. As a filmmaker too, he has gravitated towards light-hearted subjects. With Chehre, he tries his hand at a thriller for the first time, both as a writer and a director.
The film starts off with Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi), a top advertising professional, getting caught in a snowstorm in a hill station in North India. Seeing his plight, an old man, Paramjeet Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor), offers to put him up at the nearby mansion of his friend Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee) until the weather clears. Sameer accepts.
On reaching the bungalow, Sameer realizes that Bhullar, Acharya, Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan) and Hariya Jatav (Raghuvir Yadav) are the best of friends and retired legal professionals who enjoy spending time together. Their favourite pastime is conducting mock trials. The senior citizens are assisted by a young woman named Anna (Rhea Chakraborty) and a man named Joe (Siddhant Kapoor).
The four friends encourage Sameer to join them in a game and play the accused. He agrees, only to realize there is more to their eccentric activity than meets the eye.
The film’s story is exactly the same as that of the German novel Die Panne (A Dangerous Game) by Swiss author Friedrich Durrenmatt. The same goes for the main characters. However, the makers haven’t mentioned the source or credited the author.
At one point in the film, one of the characters exclaims, “I am eager to know where all this will end.” This reflects the state of mind of the viewer despite a giveaway moment at the beginning which gives one a hint of what's going on.
From the mysterious town to the lavish yet creepy bungalow to the unusual and weird characters, Chehre creates an impactful and intriguing atmosphere when the story and the characters are established in the first half. The back story of one of the characters is interesting.
Bachchan plays the public prosecutor with the mind of a detective with ease and refrains from hamming. Hashmi displays different states of mind at different points with finesse. The actor has proved time and again that there is more to him than his serial-kisser image. Annu Kapoor and Chatterjee also raise the bar.
Yadav evokes sympathy because of his former profession as a hangman and at the same time adds to the mystery. Siddhant makes his presence felt as a mute character who speaks through expressions. From the female cast, Krystle D’Souza oozes confidence while Rhea Chakraborty is decent.
It is vital for any thriller to provide a satisfying denouement. This is where Chehre slips. The entire plot becomes predictable in the end. But the bigger issue is that the film leaves some important questions unanswered. There isn’t much clarity or depth about the team of elderly friends and their way of functioning.
A subplot of a politician arriving at the same bungalow a few months earlier and playing the same game is introduced but then ignored. Chehre could have been much shorter as well. The second half, in particular, could have been trimmed. There is a monologue by Bachchan that goes on for around 10 minutes, which doesn’t add much to the storyline.
Chehre has a few things going for it. But the negatives prevent the movie being anything more than your average thriller.
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