Chamku is an interesting watch. It is the rare Bollywood film that cuts the crap, and comes to the point straight away. Unfortunately, it does not end up making one, reducing it to a shadow of what it could have been
Chamku is the story of Chandrama Singh, a man who grows up as a Naxal, before circumstances force him to become an IB and RAW recruit, the perfect killing machine for the stateís covert operations. The first half moves at an unbelievable speed. As you go from the hinterlands of Bihar to Mumbaiís urban landscape with Chamku, characters, events, plot points and action sequences overwhelm the proceedings at a breathless pace. Mainstream Hindi films will emphasize the most obvious of things, and spend time doing so, to the point that it becomes irritating. The audience is obviously not stupid, but filmmakers donít seem to get that. Kabeer Kaushik Ė Chamkuís director Ė does. Take the example of how romance between Bobby Deol and Priyanka Chopra blooms. One meeting and a song is all he takes to establish this important fact, and then we move on with the story. 5 minutes of screen time as opposed to virtually entire first halves that other directors would use to get this point. That he does so without losing plausibility is one of the key assets of the film. However, this is not enough. The second half falters, mainly because the script falls short of ideas. The pace of the film does not allow any real theme or plot to be established, and the numerous events and incidents in the film donít really add up to a whole. This problem becomes obvious as the film moves towards an ending. The director appears confused on how it should shape up Ė a vendetta tale, a political thriller, or an intimate drama. This critical snag in its script and screenplay is the reason for the ultimate failure of the film to work at any level for the audience.
The only other plus is Bobby Deolís performance. He plays the brooding, tormented anti-hero very well. Aided by minimal dialogue (he says one line in the first 15 minutes of the film) and a lengthy screen time, he plays of his character- be it the Naxalite or the urban assassin controlled by the state - with unusual restrain. His portrayal of a man whose destiny has neven been his to choose, of a son in search of exorcising his past, and a doomed lover is convincing. If nothing, this is definitely his most realistic performance to date. Irrfan Khan, the other key character in the film, is off key. He seems to be making a great effort of acting, and is nowhere near the natural performer we know him to be. Priyanka Chopra does well in her role, but there isnít any space for her to make a big impression.
The music is below par, and has no significant role to play. The background score is good, but tends to be repetitive. The costume design must be noted for its absurdity. Priyanka has a wardrobe of two saris through the entire film, and Bobbyís leopard skin shirt looks embarrassingly out of place on a political assassin whose objective is to blend, and not to stand out. Technically, the only pluses are its editing and locations, both contributing considerably to the better moments of the film.
There were not more than seven people in the cinema hall who had ventured to see the film. This is sad, because it is a film made with no compromises in its intention and execution. Unfortunately, the effort is lost, and the film is yet another reminder of how important a strong plot, a tight script, and a clear, unambiguous screenplay are to any film.