Chaalis Chauraasi: Stellar cast, not-so-stellar film

January 13, 2012

The one thing director Hriday Shetty’s film “Chaalis Chauraasi” can boast of is a stellar cast. With actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni and Kay Kay Menon as his leads, and a story idea with lots of great possibilities, it’s safe to say this film sounds great on paper.

Of course, most films must sound good on paper or else no one would make them, but that’s another story (or a blog). “Chaalis Chauraasi” is fashioned as a caper film, in which four small-time crooks plan on getting their hands on a huge sum of money that is lying in a deserted house in the middle of nowhere.

They decide to disguise themselves as policemen, get hold of a police car and make their way to their destination, but as you’d guess, nothing is quite so simple and the plan doesn’t quite work as they expected.

Naseeruddin Shah plays Mohit Suri, the leader of the gang, and somewhat of a mentor to the other three. Kay Kay Menon plays Pinto (a car thief), Atul Kulkarni plays Bobby (a small-time pimp whose dream is to one day own a “world-class escort service”) and Ravi Kishan is Shakti (a drug trader).

Together, the four have a good chemistry on screen and their camaraderie is evident, but Shetty’s direction plays spoilsport. Like an errant driver who is never sure of where he’s going or when he should accelerate, Shetty keeps veering off track, introducing bad comedy tracks or meaningless item songs at crucial moments.

The item songs (three of them) are especially jarring, almost as if Shetty is trying to make up for the lack of a female lead. The film doesn’t have the tight pace a caper film should have, and some of the scenes are pretty amateurish.

For example, in one tense hotel room scene, where Kulkarni and Menon’s characters enter a room tentatively, looking for a gangster, the entire camera set-up and the cameraperson are reflected in a TV set in the room. That’s something you’d think a director would notice.

Of the cast, the four leads are efficient, as is expected of them, but are unable to do much more, given that they are stuck with a stunted script.

Overall, this is a film that could have been much better if it had a better director at the helm. I recommend you save on your ticket money and watch this one at home in a couple of months if you must.

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