Chup is a rare film, even for fans of the thriller genre. It takes a socially relevant topic and twists it in an unimaginable way. In this story, a ruthless, creative killer is targeting film critics, terrifying the Indian film industry and confusing the Mumbai police. As the murders pile up, the police find themselves under intense pressure to find the killer, unravelling a heartbreaking story in the process that also involves legendary filmmaker Guru Dutt. The makers of Chup don’t try to hide the killer’s identity from the audience and that is where the novelty of this film begins.
Directed by R Balki, Chup stars Sunny Deol as cop Arvind Mathur, Dulquer Salman as Danny, the endearing and mysterious florist, Shreya Dhanwanthary as Nila, an entertainment journalist yearning to become an official film critic, and Pooja Bhatt as Dr Zenobia Shroff, a psychiatrist helping the police with their investigation.
Writing a review of this film feels dangerous and will probably make me jumpy about every doorbell this weekend. The film’s critique of critics isn’t limited to just the story either, the producers of the film didn’t bother with screening Chup for critics. As R Balki said in his film and after, Chup is not made for the critics. But it’s all about them. In a twisted way, this film is also a commentary on the current attacks Bollywood has faced on social media. Critics too have been targeted for any reviews that don’t suit the boycott agenda. Chup takes this trend to a whole new level and will leave film critics with a sense of fear.
Gripping, detailed thriller with great music
This is a gripping film that keeps you invested in the story. The humour is well-timed and refreshing without resorting to the age-old sexism one has come to expect from Bollywood. The light moments come from unexpected sources and catch you by surprise. However, one of the most outstanding features of this film, apart from the story, is the haunting background score. The music you hear, variations of Waqt Ne Kiya and Jaane Kya Tu Ne Kahi, is mesmerising. Set against the visuals of Mumbai, the music is a massive win for Chup. Never did I think that such soulful classics could send chills down my spine. The attention to detail is obvious in every aspect, whether it’s character development that shies away from cliches or the unexpected soundtrack that hits the mark every time it comes on.
Chup is the kind of film that makes you want to see more of everything–more of the investigation, more about the lives of the characters, and the several side stories that Balki teases in this film but never explains. It’s difficult to keep an audience invested in a film throughout even though the killer is revealed in the first half. But the director and actors of Chup together achieved this feat. Kudos to the casting director for putting together such a diverse group of actors who each excelled in their roles.
Dulquer Salman steals the show
Dulquer Salman is as endearing as he is creepy as Danny the florist. It’s tough for an actor to be able to hold your attention completely during monologues but he does it every single time. This is an actor that Bollywood A-listers need to watch out for because he can and will steal their thunder.
Sunny Deol is understated and subtle even as a hardcore cop chasing a serial killer. Arvind Mathur is one of the main characters in the film but he doesn’t scream for your attention on the screen, keeping the focus on the story. Except in the climax when we see a glimpse of action hero Sunny Deol from the 90s.
Shreya Dhanwanthary plays the role of the blissfully ignorant, modern damsel in distress quite well. The role didn’t offer a lot of room for her to do much in the film, but she doesn’t try too hard to stand out which is a skill in itself. Dhanwanthary knows the role she’s playing and she performs without trying to make Nila more than she’s meant to be.
Pooja Bhatt, in her short role as a criminal psychiatrist, is strong and leaves you wanting to see more of her character. In fact, the chemistry that Deol and Bhatt share on screen makes you want a prequel to Chup or a quintessential murder mystery series with the two playing the crime-solving protagonists.
Chup is out in theatres now and, according to this slightly scared reviewer, well worth your money and time.
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