Preeti Arora feels the talented cast of Chaalis Chauraasi saves the flawed film from total doom. The ultimate heist, the one robbery that can catapult strugglers on the brink of survival to millionaires for the rest of their lives. Nothing we haven't seen before. Hriday Shetty's latest release Chaalis Chauraasi doesn't offer anything drastically unconventional. Corrupt cops, petty conmen, the rough-and-tough baddies
we've seen them all. Is it yawn time all over again?
Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon and Ravi Kishen have the usual mundane aspirations, such as a fancy home in the sprawling city, a farmhouse on the outskirts, luxurious imported cars and enough money to retire. The goals are clear; it's the modus operandi which needs to be perfected.
The foursome, however, doesn't care too much about the details. In a semi-serious manner, they lay out their plans, only to change them a few minutes later. Pankaj Suri (Naseeruddin Shah) is respectfully called 'Sir', but despite his age, he's the brat of this pack. He manages to motivate this motley group (pun intended) into action without dwelling too much on the disastrous consequences.
Fake currency, retired English professors who now work as drivers, there seems to be no end to the nonsense and gibberish. Atul Kulkarni sheds his serious and intense persona and becomes Bobby, a glib smooth talker who once wanted to become a singer. A manager, a wheeler-dealer, or a pimp? Same difference.
Albert Pinto (Kay Kay Menon) is a car thief suffering from a serious obsessive compulsive disorder. He loves antique Fiats so much he tends to go into a hypnotic trance every time he spots one. The BMWs and Mercs pass through his hands effortlessly, but the Fiats get preferential treatment.
Shakti Chinappa (Ravi Kishen) is the unscrupulous drug dealer (groan). Why do the Shettys (Rohit Shetty included) litter their films with Chinappas and Ponappas? If the names are supposed to bring a smile to your face, it's a ploy that's terribly outdated. This Chinappa, anyway, claims to be devoid of a conscience and remains true to his character till the very end.
The straggly quartet sets out to rob a huge sum of money in an apparently unguarded structure on the outskirts of Mumbai. And the struggle begins.
The director takes a huge risk in casting these amazing actors as buddies. If any one of them had tried to outdo the other, the result would have been complete disaster. But these four veterans, with impeccable comic timing, don't just manage to keep us involved they manage to make us laugh.
Skilled actors sometimes rescue a film when the script is flailing. Chaalis Chauraasi is one such film.
The item numbers in the film are a complete disaster. They fail to titillate and become extreme irritants. The success of Munni Badnaam Hui has ensured we must suffer dozens of similar spin-offs before the next hit item number.
Rajesh Sharma who played the corrupt-with-a-conscience cop in No One Killed Jessica is once again seen as a policeman.
The film which starts out as a comic caper straddles genres and turns into a display of blood and gore. Aiming at an over-the-top climax, the director only succeeds in prolonging the film with amateurish, badly executed action.
Chaalis Chaurasi is a one-time watch for its stellar performances.