Chehre, directed by Rumi Jaffery, is based on the 1956 German novel A Dangerous Game written by Freidrich Durrenmatt. The movie has a very compelling premise where the main character goes through a mock trial by people who used to be advocates and judges in the past. It is presented as a game that is almost like a parallel judiciary. Planting such an idea to match the sensibilities of the current world needs a certain level of smartness. But that part of the movie is fragile here. With characterizations lacking layers and depth, Chehre is a loud and theatrical thriller that fails to create an impact.
Sameer Mehra, the CEO of an ad agency gets stuck in the snowy mountains while he was returning to Delhi. Paramjeet Singh Bhuller, an ex-lawyer, takes Sameer to his friend Justice Jagdish Acharya’s house, where Sameer meets Mr. Lateef Zaidi. Zaidi invites Sameer to play a game with the veterans, and the game is of a mock trial. Bhuller will defend Sameer, and Zaidi will be the prosecution lawyer. We see how Zaidi manages to churn out Sameer’s secrets during the trial proceedings in the movie Chehre.
There is a lengthy monologue towards the end of the movie where Zaidi, played by Amitabh Bachchan, talks about multiple cases, including the Nirbhaya case, to depict the inefficiency of the judicial system. And frankly, I felt like telling the character to focus on the case rather than making the judge feel bad about his job. And the other major letdown for me was the way this Sameer character was written and presented. What Zaidi unravels using his brilliance in this movie is perhaps the first thought that will come to the viewer’s mind simply because of the way the film focuses on certain things.
Amitabh Bachchan effortlessly plays a lighter version of his own character from Pink. Interestingly this was the lengthiest “friendly” appearance I have seen in my life. Emraan Hashmi as Sameer is not concealing the character properly. Maybe the makers demanded to play that character that way. Because some of the outbursts of that character look so silly, and you won’t really feel like giving credit to Zaidi for exposing Sameer. Annu Kapoor was really convincing. Dhritiman Chatterjee is yet again playing a judge character. Rhea Chakraborty’s idea of depicting trauma is a bit odd. Raghubir Yadav is wasted in a pointless role.
Rumi Jaffery wants to create this western attire for his film, and they have actually shot this movie abroad. The staging of the drama is the problem. There is no ease to the way Sameer falls for the trap. At one point, Sameer is trying to question these people by asking them whether they were all perfect. If the writing was elegant and nuanced, this question from Sameer could have created a fascinating grey area. But Jaffery prefers to stay away from those things and wants to play it for the gallery. Binod Pradhan not only makes the visuals look exquisite, but he also blocks the scenes perfectly. The colors on frames were also textbook stuff, including the camera angles that showed characters’ power and mental state.
Chehre wants to project Lateef Zaidi as this immaculate lawyer who manages to find and solve an undetected crime using very minimal clues. But the character of Sameer Mehra is so clichéd and poorly written that you will feel proud of yourself for being as smart as Zaidi. Chehre is a wasted opportunity. It could have been an indulging thriller that presented character complexities. But instead, Rumi Jaffery and writer Ranjit Kapoor keep the narrative on a superficial level.
With characterizations lacking layers and depth, Chehre is a loud and theatrical thriller that fails to create an impact.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended