‘CHUP’ REVIEW | 23 September, 2022

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Hope Productions and PEN Studios’ Chup (A) is the story of a psychopath killer who murders film critics in a gruesome manner one after the other.

Critics are killed one after the other, and there’s a pattern to the killings, but the police are not able to crack the case. In fact, the police are perplexed because the killer is so smart that he leaves no clue whatsoever. Police inspector Arvind Mathur (Sunny Deol) is in charge of the case but there’s precious little he is able to decipher out of the murders. Arvind next seeks the help of Zenobia (Pooja Bhatt) who is known for understanding the psychology of psychopaths. The police then plant a decoy critic, Nila Menon (Shreya Dhanwanthary), with a view to tempt the serial killer to go after the new critic. The intention is to nab the murderer once he falls into the trap. Does the psychopath come after the decoy critic? What is the serial killer’s motive? Meanwhile, Nila has a boyfriend, Danny (Dulquer Salmaan), who runs a flower shop called Danny’s Flowers. He also loves Nila. What happens to their love story?

R. Baki has written a story that is both, implausible and devoid of thrill. His story rests on the premise that a critic’s words are so weighty that if he is ‘wrong’ in his prediction about a film, he ought to be murdered. Even if the killer is a psychopath, such a premise is unpalatable if only because the audience can’t believe, anyone could go to that extent to seek revenge. After all, a critic is merely expressing his opinion. A critic does not affect lives like, say, a doctor or a lawyer can. The psychopath even murders a critic who gives a far better rating to a film than what he (psychopath) feels, it deserves! So, it can’t even be about seeking revenge for spoiling a film’s chances which, incidentally, critics can’t do! The screenplay, written jointly by R. Balki, Raja Sen and Rishi Virmani, tries to weave a drama around the weak story point but since the starting point itself is ridiculous, the drama just doesn’t involve the viewers. The first half drags till it bores the audience. And this is not just because of the slow pace. It has a lot to do with the seemingly lack of conviction of the writers. The love story of Danny and Nila also does not have the desired impact. The pace does pick up after interval but by then, the audience is convinced that the drama is much ado about an inconsequential issue, if only because the public does not attach half as much of importance to film reviews written by critics as the writers would have the audience believe. The screenplay is also too class-appealing. For example, the entire angle of the killer going after that film critic who gives him a story (in his review) to work upon would be lost on the majority of the viewers. The explanation of the instigation of the serial killer’s motive to eliminate film critics is another class-appealing point of the screenplay. The point about critics deciding not to review films till their safety is assured by the police looks weird if only because a similar ploy (to tone down the reviews), suggested by the police to the critics earlier, had been turned down with condemnation by the latter! Even the climax is not thrilling enough to excite the viewers. There are several subtle giveaways which more or less convince the audience about the identity of the serial killer. As a result, the actual revelation doesn’t come as a shock or surprise. Also, the murders are shown to be so gruesome that they will put the womenfolk and even classes off. All in all, the psychological thriller turns out to be an insipid and unbelievable drama. Dialogues, penned by the trio (R. Balki, Raja Sen and Rishi Virmani), are ordinary at most of the times but even poor at places.

Sunny Deol does a fine and sincere job as police officer Arvind Mathur. Dulquer Salmaan essays the difficult character of Danny with a lot of conviction but yet, if he does not make himself a darling of the viewers, it has a lot to do with the script. Shreya Dhanwanthary does a fair job as Nila Menon. Having said that, it must be added that there isn’t much that she does in the main drama except in the end. Pooja Bhatt lends good support as Zenobia. Saranya Ponvannan leaves a mark as Nila’s mother. Dhruv Lohumi provides nice support as Kartik. He has an endearing personality. Rajeev Ravindranathan is good as Arvind Mathur’s assistant. Amitabh Bachchan adds star value in a special appearance. Adhyayan Suman is below the mark in an inconsequential role in a special appearance. Bipin Nadkarni (as the police commissioner), Zahir Mirza (as Nikhil), Pravishi Das (as Reshma), Priyanka Karekar (as Danny’s mother), Raja Sen (as the senior film critic), and the others provide the desired support.

R. Balki’s direction is fair and one also gets to see glimpses of his brilliance at times but the fact remains that his choice of subject is so dull that the narration also loses impact. Amit Trivedi’s music and Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics are of a fair standard but the songs are not of the popular variety. Old hits from Guru Dutt’s films are, of course, a treat to the ears. Brinda’s choreography is so-so. Aman Pant’s background music and Amitabh Bachchan’s score for the end titles are quite alright. Vishal Sinha’s cinematography is very good. Action scenes and stunts, choreographed by Vikram Dahiya, are appealing. Production designing (Sandeep Sharad Ravade) is of a fine standard. Nayan H.K. Bhadra’s editing should’ve been tighter.

On the whole, Chup has a weak premise and, therefore, stands bleak chances at the box-office.

Released on 23-9-’22 at Inox (daily 5 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by PEN Marudhar Cine Entertainment. Publicity: very good. Opening: good due to low admission rates (National Cinema Day). …….Also released all over. Opening was good because of the low admission rates.