Film Review: ‘Chup: Revenge of the Artist’3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Director: R. Balki
Cast: Sameer Avhad, Amitabh Bachchan, Pooja Bhatt
Runtime: 135 minutes
Written by Deepesh Vasudev
I knew I had to criticise this film because the film was criticising me.
While I don’t consider myself to be on the level of the film critics that get murdered throughout Chup: Revenge of the Artist, directed by R. Balki, the moment the credits rolled I knew I had to review this film — how could I possibly say no to this meta film that criticises film critics? Even though I will be avoiding straightforward spoilers, I wouldn’t feel too bad if you stopped reading here to go and watch the film because I believe this is one of those films that are best viewed with minimal spoilers.
The film has two plotlines that begin separately and slowly collide together. One of them is the kindling romance between Danny, a florist, played by Dulquer Salmaan and Nila, a media reporter, played by Shreya Dhanwanthary. The way their romance unfolds is textbook and for the first half of the film acts as a respite from the other plot of the film.
The film’s main plot follows Inspector General Arvind Mathur, played by Sunny Deol, as he tries to solve a series of intriguing and unique murders. Both plotlines are executed to maximum entertainment and the filmmakers successfully stay one step ahead of the audience. The film is a good watch for both serial killer story enthusiasts and romance lovers. But when the third act begins, the film begins to peak and asks some interesting questions and this is where the movie dares to be something more than its constituent parts.
While the film collides both plots in spectacular fashion, asking critical questions as to what is the role of cinema criticism, what are the responsibilities of powerful cinema critics and whether art can even be truly judged. While these questions are philosophically and societally massive the film does still maintain its entertaining aspects, if you don’t want to think about the questions, you don’t need to and can still enjoy the film. But I would assume that you do care about these questions since you are reading this.
The film must be lauded for its ambition of balancing entertainment with philosophy, and I would say that it accomplished its ambition. However, the film still utilises certain tropes from Bollywood cinema that pull you out of the entertaining and philosophical conundrum. Certain elements might be argued to be cheesy, and overtly sentimental and some of the stunts fall flat.
While usually, it’s quite easy to accept cheesiness and sentimentality by just switching off your brain, the film wants you to have your brain switched on to acknowledge the serious questions the film raises. But this is me nitpicking, what R. Balki has done with this film is something more Bollywood films should strive for, a balance of entertainment and thought-provoking thematic elements.
This review is published as part of *SCAPE’s Film Critics Lab: A Writing Mentorship Programme, organised by The Filmic Eye, with support from the Singapore Film Society and Sinema.
About the Author:
Deepesh Vasudev is a filmmaker and also majors in Philosophy at NUS. He has created short films, music videos, adverts and visual poems, to name a few