It takes a lot to waste such a gripping premise with poor writing. But director Rumi Jafry's "Chehre" does just that. The film starts on a promising note, but it soon starts to go downhill. "Chehre" is so bizarre after a point that even seasoned actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Anu Kapoor, and Emraan Hashmi aren't able to lift the script. While everything might have looked perfect on paper, it just doesn't translate on screen.
A Delhi based ad agency chief, Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) gets stranded in a hailstorm, and four retired court officials invite him to spend the night in their haunted house-like bungalow at an isolated hill station. Little does Sameer know that these oldies enact mock trials with strangers as a pass-time, and they've found their latest guinea pig. Reluctant at first, he gives in to their twisted 'game'.
Amitabh Bachchan is the eccentric public prosecutor Lateef Zaidi, Annu Kapoor the funnily serious defence lawyer Paramjeet Singh Bhuller, Dhritiman Chatterjee as the straight-faced judge Justice Jagdish Acharya, and Raghubir Yadav plays the ever-excited prosecutor Hariya Jatav. Together, these four men create a lot of drama, deliver high-pitched lines, but it all goes through major turbulence before they have a smooth landing.
In this court of law, which they like to call 'real game', there is no 'insaaf' but 'faisla' -- no justice, only judgement. And that's the build-up we see for almost two hours and 20 minutes when Sameer is tried for murdering his boss.
"Chehre" is a thriller that fails to thrill. It's engrossingly shot but the twists, at times, are so predictable. On many occasions, the story written by Ranjit Kapoor comes across as unconventional, but sadly, just when things are looking exciting, it gets so stretched that it ends up losing its momentum. You wish there was some more thought given to the editing, and maybe then it could have been a crisper watch.
The dialogues, co-written by Rumi and Ranjit, are so heavy-handed that they tend to get burdened by their own weight. There's a lot of 'shayari' too, but you can only enjoy these Hindi literature lectures to a point. However, some one-liners do trigger laughs.
Here, I want to mention the approximately 7-minute-long monologue that Amitabh Bachchan delivers. From the Nirbhaya rape case and the plight of acid attack victims to the Uri surgical strikes and Indo-Pak tensions, he touches on everything under the sun in one breath, without getting to the actual point. It seems like he's filibustering. All this is coming from a good place, but the execution has serious issues. Watch Kartik Aaryan's monologue from Pyaar Ka Punchnama would be a better alternative to this preachiness.
Amitabh and Emraan's face-off sequences are exciting. Annu Kapoor, too, spruces things up with his Punjabi accent. Rhea Chakraborty (Anna), the mysterious house help and painter, is wasted playing a half-baked character that doesn't let her do much. So is Siddhanth Kapoor (Joe), who can't speak. Krystle D'Souza (Natasha Oswal) for her first big screen outing looks quite impressive. There's Samir Soni, too, as Emraan's boss and Krystle's onscreen husband, but his overacting can just be ignored.
"Chehre" can't be called a thrilling courtroom drama. So, let's just say that Rumi Jafry has attempted something out of his comfort zone, but his film is merely watchable.