Chup has thrilling elements like Dutt’s legacy, a serial killer, and film criticism but the execution is disappointing.
Guru Dutt, a personality cherished by cinephiles, deserves a profound, devoted, and cinematically rich ode. R Balki‘s ‘Chup: Revenge of the Artist’ tries but fails to pay such a tribute. Chup revolves around a serial killer killing rigged film critics who don’t understand public opinion. The serial killer seems to be inspired by Guru Dutt, whose last film, Kaagaz ke Phool, was trashed by critics but is now considered a masterpiece. The premise has thrilling elements like Dutt’s legacy, a serial killer, and film criticism but the execution is disappointing.
Dulquer Salman shines as a romantic, shy florist Danny even in his talking-to-self moments but is unconvincing while portraying the other side of his personality. Sneha Dhanwanthary plays the role of the entertainment journalist Nila aptly. Sunny Deol portrays the role of IG Arvind Mathur well, but the script lets him down. With him is DSP Srinivas Shetty (Rajeev Ravindranathan), who is shown as a foolish person to make Mathur look intelligent. Pooja Bhatt, as criminal psychologist Dr. Zenobia Shroff, arrives too late; her acting doesn’t help either. Her first absurd deduction is that the criminal cannot be female because a woman wouldn’t gorily kill a man with a huge “tond” because he is ugly.
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The script takes too long to reach the climax, repeatedly spoon-feeds the audience and the serial killer and the artist are both stereotypical. It does not arouse dread or fear like an effective crime thriller should. As a critic, I am not even mildly scared to write a critique after watching Chup. Most dialogues are good, but some are awkward. For instance, “A film is someone’s baby; how can you rape someone’s child?” is abhorrent and unnecessary.
The usage of light, especially in the climax, is beautiful; so is Danny’s flower shop. However, an ode to Guru Dutt, who made his shots speak volumes, could have richer cinematography. There are barely any new songs in the film, but the remake of “Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye Toh Kya Hai” is refreshing, a difficult feat to achieve.
A film where a board tells you “Woody Allen is innocent”, has Amitabh Bachchan telling us that critique is a must for art, and for society. It doesn’t matter whether you like a film, your review should be honest, not rigged. It sets off with good intentions but ends up blaming critics ‘who spit on artists’ stories’. This reminds me of instances when critics claim they commented on the craft but actors accuse them of getting personal. The misunderstandings between artists and critics are not new. Chup attempts to solve these misunderstandings but fails to find a middle ground. An ode to Guru Dutt deserves better than this.
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