Naseeruddin Shah. Kay Kay Menon. Atul Kulkarni. Ravi Kishen. Zakir Hussain. A dream cast, isn't it? When such talented actors, especially the very first name that I've cited, green-lights a project, the expectations sky-rocket dramatically. You can't afford to go wrong. The talent has to be utilized to the optimum. Wasting it in an ordinary script would be sacrilegious.
On paper, after the actors must've read the script, I am sure they must've exclaimed, 'What an idea, Sirji'! But interesting ideas don't necessarily translate into interesting films. CHAALIS CHAURAASI proves it yet again. Problem kya hain? It's an ordinary screenplay that relies on the customary masala to make things work. But when you cast actors of such calibre, you can't afford to go for the tried and tested stuff. You've got to be innovative, you need to take risks, you need to walk the untrodden path, you need to defy the normsâ€¦ which, unfortunately, CHAALIS CHAURAASI doesn't.
The story revolves around four people -- Sir [Naseeruddin Shah], Albert [Kay Kay Menon], Bobby [Atul Kulkarni] and Shakti [Ravi Kishan] -- who see an opportunity to a great future when they are given a mission to pull off. Things take a twist when another cop [Rajesh Sharma] stops their van en-route and takes them as his backup to catch a dangerous gangster [Zakir Hussain].
The story unfolds through the night where the fine line between law and crime is repeatedly crossed, leading to unexpected situations.
One expects CHAALIS CHAURAASI to start with a bang. But the sequence of events that unfold are of the run of the mill variety and what's surprising is that director Hriday Shetty devotes the entire first hour on the back-story of the four characters, instead of cutting it short and taking the story forward. Also, the relevance of the title comes too late in the day [towards the end of the movie], which, ideally, should've been a bit more prominent.
To give the credit where it's due, CHAALIS CHAURAASI has an attention-grabbing premise and some truly wonderful scenes, but the writing lacks the energy and dynamism to keep you hooked. If the first half is lackluster, the post-interval portions are marginally thrilling, but the penultimate moments -- the tryst with the terrorists -- tries so hard to be funny that it falls flat on its face. In fact, the finale should've been the highpoint of the film. Another reason why the film stumbles is the inclusion of songs in the narrative, barring 'Hawa Hawa'.
Hriday Shetty has filmed a couple of sequences well, but no actor or director, howsoever talented he/she is, can reinvigorate and strengthen a weak screenplay. Dialogue are serviceable and so are the action sequences.
It's sad to watch a fantastic cast being underutilized. One has come to expect a bravura performance from Naseeruddin Shah, but he's just about okay. Kay Kay is mediocre as well -- again, a talent that deserved a better deal. Atul Kulkarni is the best of the lot. Ravi Kishen is tolerable. Zakir Hussain doesn't get much to do. Arbaaz Ali Khan is wasted. Rajesh Sharma gives a good account of himself. Shweta Bhardwaj has an inconsequential role. Ditto for Manoj Pahwa.
On the whole, CHAALIS CHAURAASI is inconsistent. It could've done with a better script!