Director: Kabeer Kaushik
Producer: Vijayta Films
Banner: Vijayta Films
Cast: Bobby Deol, Priyanka Chopra, Arshad Warsi, Ritesh Deshmukh, Irrfan Khan, Danny Denzongpa, Rajpal Yadav, Arya Babbar
A hard-hitting story of a man subjugated by the system and used by the same
A suspected Bobby Deol showcase the movie spins around in every way to serve as the fitting exposition to his ‘talent’. Vijayta Films is leaving no stone unturned.
Chamku is the story of a little boy who sees his parent massacred by the local zamindar for no fault of theirs. This gory memory remains with him all his life in a crude coming true of the zamindar’s quip, ‘koi kuchh nahi bhoolta’. After this stirring opening introduction to the hero whom we just saw daringly shooting down a gang in a train, the film consistently falls.
Left to die by the zamindar, little Chamku is rescued and brought up by a Naxalite leader. But when he is killed, Chamku is attacked too but is saved and recruited as a special agent, sharp shooter for the Indian Intelligence in the return of his life. Soon he is termed the best sharp shooter RAW and IBI has and he leads this life of ransom until one day his past catches up with him and alters the course of his future.
Chamku pretends to be a hard-hitting story of a man subjugated by the system and used by the same. It also pretends to be about the beginning and culmination of his story. What it turns out to be is a crime fiction woven in hard realities (usually mean the lawlessness of Bihar and East UP and here it is the Naxalites) drama softened around the edges with a Ms World in designer clothes playing the love-interest of the man and that’s that.
The film employs a linear pattern of narration and uses the single episode of childhood trauma to reiterate Chamku’s scarred psyche. The recurrence of the sepia-toned, yellowed memories still sharp in his mind after all these years is a poignant manner of communicating Chamku’s anguish.
Director Kabir Kaushik uses powerful and stark shots to essay Chamku’s rough past. But this rough past is a mere recurrence that is like a haunting memory for Chamku, only at times threatening to spill over. This rough past is tempered with a present that has love along with all the dangers. Chamku falls in love with Shubhi, a school teacher in the probably cinema’s fastest love story. Out of the innumerable clichés in Hindi cinema this, of a man-with-nothing-to-lose falling in love with a softer-than-petal girl, perhaps, is the worst.
Overall, the film holds a glossy look, has been through the requisite digital procedures to enhance it and that takes away a lot of the grit of the film. The editing is sharp, especially of the training and sharp-shooting missions. It invests the film with an energy that the screenplay does not allow it.
Bobby Deol delivers a brooding performance and is apt for the role of a quiet, ravaged man doing his bidding. Priyanka Chopra plays the typical girl with aspirations and the breath of love in her eyes. Danny in a cameo promises a lot but hardly delivers and the same goes for Ritesh Deshmukh and Rajpal Yadav in blink-n-miss roles. Of the whole cast it is Irfan Khan who impresses with his under-pressure Inspector without any scruples act. It is astonishing how many nuances he can invest in a not-so-layered role.
Chamku could have been salvaged had it not had an eye on the commercial angle of films as well. Titillating songs that are borderline obscene, unnecessary tracks of relationships, portrayed by good actors doing bad acting, and the convenience of Chamku’s destiny sums up the fact that the film did not turn out the way it was meant to be.