Chaalis Chauraasi (2012) *MQ*

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This one’s a dhamaal entertainer, with suspense and comedy thrown in at crucial moments to spice up the events that happen in one night.At every turn, there’s a new twist, sometimes comical, sometimes sinister.To sum it up, director Hriday Shetty conjures up an entertainer which could be bracketed as suspense comedy.The comedy comes full-on towards the end as the suspense builds up to the grand finale.

Shetty begins by showing his four main protagonists, Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni and Ravi Kissen on beat in their police van. It appears they have finished their duty and are off for a good night’s sleep. The mood, the setting and the screenplay that makes its presence felt in the next 10 minutes sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Already in a ‘mood’ with rum in their belly, they indulge in some harmless masti with a couple in a car who overtake their police van from the left. Annoyed Sir (Naseer) blocks their path. While the hapless husband wonders what he has done wrong, Kulkarni, from the other side questions the wife with a ‘leer’. There’s tension in the air as to what will follow next even as Naseer asks the husband to take a swig from the bottle as he is sober. Is this a trap to corner the man? What follows next is a series of events that will have you gripped in.

The Hawa Hawa and Setting Zala, songs add to the tempo with small flashbacks thrown in to give you the complete picture. Obviously, I cannot spoil the suspense for you here.However, Shetty could have been smarter in the editing department, by cutting the screen time by 10 minutes. I feel that is what stops me from describing this film as brilliant. A few scenes, although clear to the viewer, are unnecessary lengthened by going into more flashbacks. So much of spoon-feeding spoils the narration.

Naseer is his flamboyant self, playing the leader with a dash of arrogance and sympathy to his juniors. Kay Kay Menon, coming on screen after a long hiatus, takes time to get into the skin of his character, and when he does, he thrills. Ravi Kissen deliberately downplays his usual body language to match that of the character he plays, and succeeds to an extent. Which is a huge relief. But it is Atul Kulkarni who surprises doing a complete new act, getting into the character so deep that you cannot find shades of his earlier performances. Even Shweta Bhardwaj is used smartly with Shetty extracting a smart performance from her.

If you are looking for a film to entertain you, this one’s definitely a must-watch. The ratings are for the screenplay, camaraderie between the four main characters, the plot which is smartly woven, the suspense and the right dose of comedy.

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