CHARLIE CHOPRA & THE MYSTERY OF THE SOLANG VALLEY is the story of a woman who is compelled to turn detective. In Solang Valley, a séance is being conducted by Rai Saab (Naseeruddin Shah) on a night of heavy snowfall in the presence of Miss Bharucha (Ratna Pathak Shah), Colonel Barua (Baharul Islam), Janki Rawat (Neena Gupta), Janki’s husband Mohan Rawat (Lalit Parimoo), Janki and Mohan’s son Varun Rawat (Pulkit Makol), Wilayat (Lara Dutta) and Wilayat’s daughter Wasima (Bhagyashree Tarke). Suddenly, Wasima gets possessed by the spirit of a certain Lady Rose and she predicts death. Rai concludes that Brigadier Meherbaan Singh Rawat (Gulshan Grover), related to all the guests in some way and who is based in Manali, has died. A concerned Colonel Barua rushes to Manali and finds that Meherbaan has been murdered. The prime suspect is Jimmy Nautiyal (Vivaan Shah). He claims he’s innocent though he admits he did meet Meherbaan on the night of the latter’s death. The cop in charge, Inspector Narayan (Ghanshyam Garg), doesn’t feel the need to investigate further. However, Jimmy’s love interest Charu Lata Chopra aka Charlie Chopra (Wamiqa Gabbi) arrives. She is an aspiring sleuth and she starts questioning everyone close to Meherbaan. This includes not just the guests at the séance but also Saloni (Paoli Dam) and Saloni’s husband Manas (Chandan Roy Sanyal). What happens next forms the rest of the show.
Web Series Review: Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley
CHARLIE CHOPRA & THE MYSTERY OF THE SOLANG VALLEY is based on Agatha Christie's novel 'The Sittaford Mystery'. The story is intriguing and makes for a watchable whodunit. Vishal Bhardwaj, Anjum Rajabali and Jyotsna Hariharan's screenplay is engaging. The writers play by the rules – the murder takes place, the characters are introduced one by one and the viewers are informed that each one of them had a motive to kill. At places, however, the writing is convenient and difficult to digest. The dialogues are superb and add to the mystery and even humour quotient. However, some one-liners don’t land as intended.
Vishal Bhardwaj's direction is neat. He keeps the narrative as simplified as possible. It’s praiseworthy how he has worked hard over the setting. The snow, the mountain ranges, the cable car, etc, all add to the effect. The zone of the show is also light. A few scenes are funny and goofy. The character of Charlie Chopra is fleshed out amazingly. It’s rare to see such a smart and hilarious character, that too a female detective, in the Indian entertainment space. In this regard, Vishal Bhardwaj gets it just right. The idea of Charlie breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience is quite creative.
On the flipside, though the makers tried their best, the show still gets confusing. This is because there are too many characters and it takes a while to remember who is related to whom and how. Even if you remember the connections in the initial few episodes, you might struggle to recollect in the subsequent episodes. A few twists are predictable. Moreover, it’s bewildering why the makers never showed the face of the MMS girl and never established how she trapped her victim. The finale, though unexpected, moves at a slow pace. Lastly, it gives a been-there-done-that feeling as recently, a few films like GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY , NEEYAT , A HAUNTING IN VENICE  etc. also had similar settings and style.
Speaking of performances, Wamiqa Gabbi rocks the show. She had proved her worth in the past. But in the case of CHARLIE CHOPRA & THE MYSTERY OF THE SOLANG VALLEY, she proves that she’s one of the greatest talents around. She, of course, got a role that any actress would die for. And she takes it many notches higher. She dominates all the seasoned actors and this further proves her superior acting prowess. Her comic timing, too, is impeccable.
Priyanshu Painyuli (Sitaram Bisht) is entertaining and contributes a lot to the show. Ratna Pathak Shah is quite likeable, although her screen time is a bit limited. The same goes for Neena Gupta. Baharul Islam leaves a huge mark. Gulshan Grover is dependable, as always. Lara Dutta is quite good. Bhagyashree Tarke makes her presence felt. Vivaan Shah and Pulkit Makol are hardly there but make up for it with their fine performances. Paoli Dam and Lalit Parimoo have very limited scope. Chandan Roy Sanyal shines due to his acting and also his character. Ghanshyam Garg is funny. Naseeruddin Shah has a cameo but delivers an arresting performance. Also, the character is such that only someone as talented as him would have pulled it off with conviction. Ashique Hussain (Hanif; Meherbaan's servant), Heeba Shah (Hanif's wife), Amitabh Bhattacharjee (Mr Negi), Damini Basu (Mrs Negi), Karan Nagar (Ronny; Ratna Pathak's servant) and the actor playing Thakur are decent. Lastly, Richa Chadha (Dolly Chopra) is lovely in a cameo.
Vishal Bhardwaj's music is not memorable. The title song registers but 'Doobey', 'Chup Chup Ke', 'Yun Mere Sang' etc, are forgettable. Vishal Bhardwaj's background score is apt for the genre and feel of the show. Tassaduq Hussain's cinematography is splendid. The exterior scenes are captured beautifully but even the house portions are praiseworthy. Abhilasha Sharma's costumes are stylish, yet realistic. Special mention here should go to Wamiqa Gabbi’s styling. Shoumini Ghosh Roy's production design is very rich. Manas Mittal's editing is sharp. The show is less than 3 hours long but in some sequences, it could have been slicker.
On the whole, CHARLIE CHOPRA & THE MYSTERY OF THE SOLANG VALLEY is an entertaining and intriguing whodunit and is laced with an award-winning performance of Wamiqa Gabbi.
Rating: 3 stars
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