Chup Review: Dulquer Salmaan proves his art yet again in a tepid crime drama

R.Balki's film is entertaining with top-notch performances, but the screenplay loses grip halfway through



by

Ambica Sachin

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 5:46 PM

The premise: A grotesque serial killer with a penchant for cutting up his victims in the most macabre manner is on the prowl in Mumbai.

His target: Morbidly obese Bollywood film critics whose star ratings don’t match the protagonist’s personal take on movies.

His modus operandi: Read reviews of movies online and if they don’t live up to his own experience in the theatre, woe betide - he then proceeds to do unto the critics what they have done unto others by using their own words to script their end.

Movie highlight: The psychopath casually walks into his victim’s flat in a Mumbai high rise. Even as one of Mumbai Police Force’s top cops stands guard across the door, he gags his victim, bundles her up in a rug/blanket, and flings the body from the bedroom window across to the deserted neighbouring compound over the heads of the roving security team. He then sprints across and proceeds to go about his business with his wounded but still alive victim.

Movie’s strength: While the subject matter may be novel for Indian cinema, Chup: Revenge of the Artist benefits from excellent performances by a seemingly unusual lead cast. It’s a visually luscious set (credit to Vishal Sinha), with even the savagely brutalized bodies showcasing artfully precise cuts.

Dulquer Salmaan is among those rare actors who can enthrall audiences with his seemingly effortless acting chops, even if you don’t buy into the script totally. As a reclusive florist with a double edge, he plays Danny with such understated elegance that we badly want to empathise with him. But sadly end up watching his tragic life unravel as a casual observer with no skin in the game.

Shreya Dhanwanthary (Scam 1992) as Nila Menon, an ambitious entertainment reporter who is passionate about cinema, is exquisite - the scene where the camera lovingly captures her delight as her Bollywood dreams come true during a song sequence reflects her talent. As an idealistic cinephile who falls for an attractive, stranger, she sinks her teeth into a complex role, but her hyper act in the latter part of the movie is jarring.

Sunny Deol: The Ghayal actor turns in an impressive performance as Inspector Arvind Mathur, grappling with the mysterious killings in his neighbourhood. The Deol aura, we are glad to report, is intact, and he does great justice to his role, though the second half of the movie sees him go down the stereotypical Bollywood route with a heavily dramatised performance.

Catchy lyrics: For a psychological crime drama set in the midst of a bustling metropolis like Mumbai, Chup has a certain old school lyricism infused within the plot line. Beyond the gore and the romance, Chup is also a tribute to the genius of Guru Dutt whose last movie the critically panned Kaagaz Ke Phool is referenced throughout the story. Even as Gaya Gaya Gaya (in the melodious voice of Rupali Moghe and Shashwat Singh)) makes you want to stop and inhale the rain-drenched atmosphere, you walk out of the theatre humming the classic Jaane Kya Tune Kahi…, testimony to the timeless appeal of good music.

Movie with a message: Balki is known to be a filmmaker whose works are socially relevant and always manages to charm you with its slightly off kilter arcs. There are potshots taken at a political party’s famous slogan and Amitabh Bachchan’s appearance espousing the virtues of critics may seem forced but he certainly raises relevant points. All the ideation on the qualities of the ‘perfect critic’ can seem a bit pedantic, but the movie does try to strike a balance between good critics and those with an agenda.

Where Chup loses the plot: For a psychological thriller, there is oddly no great twists or turns through the movie so the second half appears a bit flat. But it is powered by sincere performances from all involved and no doubt it is entertaining but waiting for the investigation officials to catch up with what the audience is already privy to can prove to be a bit weary. Also the mix of dark realism with some fantastical plot points, is a bit jarring.

Final Takeaway: A movie may be a director’s baby, but as much as it belongs to all the artists involved, it also belongs to the audience and that includes the critics. Chup may not be the right vehicle to silence critics but there are learnings to be taken away by both parties and chief among them being the fact that movie watching is a highly personal act and while everyone is entitled to their own opinions, maybe a little bit of kindness won’t hurt anyone. Try telling ‘Danny’ that though!

Chup: The Revenge of the Artist

Director: R. Balki

Cast: Dulquer Salmaan, Sunny Deol, Shreya Dhanwanthary

Rating: 3 out of 5


More news from Entertainment