Movie name: Chup
Cast: Sunny Deol, Dulquer Salmaan
Director: R Balki
R Balki’s latest film, Chup, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Sunny Deol, is an intense and thought-provoking thriller that attempts to examine the true purpose of film criticism. Fortunately, the film does this without being preachy or overly dramatic. Chup revolves around a serial killer who brutally murders critics for insulting artists with their callous remarks. Authorities quickly bring in daring cop Arvind Mathur (Sunny) to investigate the case. He finds some striking similarities between the murders, which sets the stage for a game of cat and mouse.
The basic storyline is quite compelling as it features just about everything – ranging from a bit of gore to a generous dose of twists and turns – one would expect from a thriller. The promising premise exceeds its potential due to the skillfully executed storyline.
Generally speaking, a thriller can only work if it packs a punch without trying too hard to do so. Take Drishyam, for example. The Mohanlal-directed film, which was remade in Hindi under the same title with Ajay Devgn in the lead, achieved cult status because everything felt as organic as possible. This is exactly where Chup succeeds. The film moves at its own pace initially as director R Balki carefully constructs his world. Given the gender, violence is an integral part of the narrative. None of the scenes seek to shock the audience. Instead, the focus is on using these scenes to explore the serial killer’s psyche.
The same goes for big twists. The work, although evident mainly in the direction, is as good as it gets.
The writing, however, culminates in romantic scenes. Dulquer Salmaan’s exchanges with Shreya Dhanwanthary are for those who enjoy light-hearted yet realistic love stories. There is absolutely nothing filmi or pretentious about these sequences.
The film features several short but watchable scenes that examine the complex relationship between art and its critics. The second half feels a bit slow in portions, but does a good job of setting the stage for the thrilling finale. Chup’s final sequences tackle a sensitive subject while celebrating the magic of cinema.
The real beauty of Chup is that he manages to handle three distinct aspects or sub-plots with enough skill. None of these tracks sound undercooked.
When it comes to performance, Dulquer does justice to a complex character. His chemistry with Shreya may first recall his breezy rapport with Nithya Menen at OK Kanmani.
The way he deals with scenes illustrating his character’s trauma, however, is quite different from the approach taken by Fahadh Faasil in films such as Joji and Maheshinte Pratikaaram. FaFa used his eyes to internalize his characters. DQ, meanwhile, uses his body language to bring out the complexities of his character.
Shreya, who plays a young journalist, channels her character’s innocence.
However, it is Sunny Doel who turns out to be the scene stealer here. The veteran actor delivers a beautifully restrained performance. He packs a punch without even flexing his muscles. The natural intensity he brings to Chup’s table may recall his work in the underrated Ghayal 2.
Saranya and Pooja Bhatt are a bit underutilized. The former, however, makes its presence felt despite the limited screen time.
The dialogues have situational appeal and lines such as “Scorcese nahi Shetty” and “Galti Se Tax” stand out. The editing is good because Chup does not drag. The romantic song featured in the film, however, could have been more catchy. The other technical aspects are up to par.
To sum up, Chup is a highly watchable, multi-layered thriller that can “silence” its critics, thanks to its refreshing concept.
We go with 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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