The new SonyLIV original, Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley, the Indian adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel The Sittaford Mystery, tries to blend this Fleabag kind of fourth-wall-breaking quirkiness to a typical Agatha Christie setup where the detective is trying to find the murderer. Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley takes a long time to get things rolling compellingly. Even though the humor makes it engaging, I found myself engrossed in the development only in the final episode of this series.
The series is about this murder that happens in Solang Valley. Brigadier Meherbaan Singh Rawat was murdered on the night when his relatives and friends were conducting a séance. The investigation done by the local police hastily arrests Jimmy, Rawat’s nephew who had visited Rawat that night. The series shows us the private investigation by Jimmy’s girlfriend, Charlie Chopra, to prove her boyfriend’s innocence.
Almost a week back, I saw the third installment in the Kenneth Branagh-directed Agatha Christie franchise, A Haunting in Venice. This séance is a thing in that movie, and Agatha Christie novels have this template-ish approach in building plots. Maybe because of the various adaptations of her books I have seen in the past few years, when the central event happens in Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley, rather than an element of curiosity, the first thing that came to my mind was “here we go again!” Somewhere, I feel even Vishal Bhardwaj and his writers are sort of aware of this typical space of the story in the beginning. Hence, they have used this Fleabag-inspired central character to dominate the narrative in the initial episodes.
Other than the decision to make the frames look very close to log footage visually, the series felt pretty generic. Yes, we do have the main character tilting her head towards us to express her opinions. Even though the writers have tried to adapt the story to the Indian setting by incorporating many things like the Bangladesh refugee, the 1971 war, media culture, and several other things, there is no intrigue around the murder and the investigation for almost the first 4 episodes of this 6 episode series. And the way the investigation leads to other probable suspects is also a bit forced. The peculiarity is making those tracks look interesting, but you are very clear that it is a deliberate distraction. Vishal Bhardwaj has used Rekha Bhardwaj’s enigmatic voice by making music a part of the plot.
Wamiqa Gabbi, as the central character, has that quirky charm you expect in that character. When she looks at the camera, you can sense the unconventional energy in the character. Priyanshu Painyuli, as the second fiddle-like journalist, gets to play a role that is not there in his filmography, and the guy was pretty convincing as that literally loud, desperate reporter. Neena Gupta as Janki gets some memorable moments to perform towards the series finale. Other than these folks, the rest of the cast had important characters with minimal screen time, and that includes big names like Naseerudhin Shah, Rathna Patak Shah, and Gulshan Grover, along with the likes of Lara Dutta, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Paoli Dam, Imaaduddin Shah and Vivaan Shah.
The decision to give the story a humorous undertone in order to make it engaging definitely makes Charlie Chopra a passable yet predictable thriller. If you are looking for a thriller where your guess going wrong is essential for you to enjoy that series, then I wouldn’t say Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley will give you that satisfaction. But if you are excited about the idea of a humorous approach to an Agatha Christie novel, then this one has discrete moments of fun to its credit.
If you are excited about the idea of a humorous approach to an Agatha Christie novel, then this one has discrete moments of fun to its credit.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended