Chehre Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi film is a righteous fight of black vs white. But it is not necessarily right.
Brilliantly twisted minds have always been a thing of intrigue in literature, pop culture and cinema. Which is why we have woven stories around Sherlock Holmes or the homegrown Feluda. The thrill of knowing the unknown through observation and logic is unparalleled. Feluda dubbed it ‘mogojastro’ or the mind weapon. Those who have it flaunt it, the rest of us marvel and watch them – spellbound – solve mysteries. Rumi Jafry intended the Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi, Raghubir Yadav, Annu Kapoor and Rhea Chakraborty-starrer Chehre to be that.
The trailer gave us a just idea of what to expect. On paper, it is so gripping that you watch like a hawk everything that unfolds on screen. For the most part. And then you also start noticing that while Rumi has managed to tightly knit the narrative together, by the end he’s run out of yarn, and we’re left yearning for something more, something better.
Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) happens to luckily bump into Paramjeet Singh Bhuller (Annu Kapoor) exactly when his car gives up after a freak accident he just escaped. Heavy snow in an uninhabited nook in the hills leaves him no choice but to accept Singh’s offer and walk up to Jagdish Acharya’s (Dhritiman Chatterjee) house. He meets their other friends Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) and Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan). Four friends who have all their lives been attached to the Indian judicial system in varying capacities, and are now retired, spend their last few days conducting mock trials as fun post-dinner games. After much cajoling, and some unnecessary younger generation vs older generation talks, Sameer agrees to partake in tonight’s game as the accused. He is confident that he is a clean man and therefore prosecutor Zaidi will find nothing against him, Singh as his defence will be able to ably defend him, and judge Acharya will pronounce him innocent. And then the skeletons come tumbling out.
Chehre’s biggest flaw is that it positions the trinity of Zaidi, Singh and Acharya as somewhat of the Justice League – pun intended – fighting to punish the wrong, without any real motive. Sans the trappings of the judiciary of the real world, in this microcosm, the law is absolute. The righteousness in the script is black and white, much like the uniform these men have donned all their lives. Yet, in order to let the truth triumph, they are willing to resort to wily ways – searching through Sameer’s car and his phone without his permission – and solidify their suspicion. Even then, the story could have seemed plausible if the accused Sameer was in any way tied to either of their pasts – a case they worked on together but the culprit slipped away or an incident that ties them with Sameer which gives them knowledge of the truth and they’re simply working their way backwards. Anna (Rhea Chakraborty), as the pretty, young house help who is more like the daughter, and Joe (Siddhanth Kapoor), the mute Man Friday who is more of a friend, does provide that scope. But writers Rumi Jafry and Ranjit Kapoor do not take that bait. And in the end, we’re left with a story that hinges on law and the justice system, without giving us motive, the first thing law asks.
Behind the questionable hairdo bestowed upon Raghubir Yadav and Amitabh Bachchan, the performances by each of them is flawless. Dhritiman Chatterjee and Emraan Hashmi remain understated, allowing Amitabh to be the overdramatic prosecutor, overaccentuating here, sniggering there. Annu Kapoor strikes a fine balance there. Watching the four stalwarts feeding off each other’s years of acting experience is astounding and a masterclass in acting itself. Rhea gets an okayish role and she does it fine-ish. Krystle D’Souza’s Natasha Oberoi gets some meat and she sinks her teeth into the character. Siddhant gets a raw deal, and we wish to see him in better roles going forward. Chehre also stars Samir Soni in a cameo.
In the penultimate scenes of Chehre, Amitabh Bachchan is given a freakishly long monologue, which may have been Rumi Jafry’s proclamation of love for that deep baritone – and we love it too – but it is the film’s final undoing.