Planet Bollywood
Charas - A Joint Effort
 
Producer: Anjum Rizvi
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Starring: Uday Chopra, Jimmy Shergill, Namrata Shirodkar, Hrishita Bhatt & Irfan Khan
Music: Raju Singh
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar & Tigmannshu Dhulia
Genre: Social
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 07 May 2004
Reviewed by: Shruti Bhasin  - Rating: 5.0 / 10
 
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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The title of the film says it all! The movie begins with Charas and ends by destroying the charas. Its as simple as that, but the film has been commercialized to sell nothing but Irfan Khan’s performance, that’s about it.

The movie begins with a botany student, Sam Higgins (Adam Bedi) studying in the mountains in India. He is kidnapped by druglords to become a narcotics scientist. Hhis well-connected grandparents have a Indian officer investigate what happened. The cop is from Scotland Yard, Dev Anand (Jimmy Shergill), and is on his way to India for the first time.

Now the funny thing about Dev is that he likes to introduce himself as if he’s James Bond. What a joke! “Hi, my name is Dev . . . Dev Anand.” Anyway, I am not sure if director, Tigmanshu Dhulia, was paying tribute to yesteryear classic Hare Rama Hare Krishna with the underlying theme of drugs, but I think the whole name game with Dev Anand was irrelevant.

Now, Dev reaches India and gets befriended by Ashraf (Uday Chopra). They each keep their real jobs secret from one another. Ashraf claims to be a guide, but is really keeping an eye on Dev. So they head for the mountains and the search begins for Sam.

Oh wait, like all films, there must be a romantic track. On their way to the mountains, Dev and Ashraf pickup a hitchhiking teacher, Naina (Hrishitaa Bhatt). Mr. Ashraf falls in love, but she does not stay with them long enough. We learn that she is working with a drug racket, headed by a man called POLICEMAN (Irfan Khan - bright orange hair).

Dev and Ashraf separate. Dev questions the townspeople about Sam and gets dirty looks. Mr. Dev must also have a love interest so we have Piya (Namrata Shirodkar). She looks like a drug addict but she is an undercover reporter. Seems like the mountain town has more secrets, and that is where this film fails. The original concept of a whole film on Charas should’ve been on a straight track, but the audience has to sit through the many, many sub-plots. We witness government officials in both Britain and India being a big part of the drug-racket and the corruption to keep it secret. We are nauseated to the point of seeing badly dressed Italian mafia men sending Afghani bad guys to gain the secret of the Charas.

There is only one part of the film, which holds the story together, and it’s a flashback sequence, where we learn how the POLICEMAN is really related to Ashraf. After this part, the film is dreadfully long.

The movie introduces characters and within 5 minutes, they are either killed, or they disappear. The editing is inconsistent and the film leaves some questions unanswered such as:

When Dev and Piya find the body of a Italian mobster, why are they in bed together in the very next scene?

Why does Policeman kill himself?

Why don’t we have a clue what Naina is doing in a drug-racket?

One must understand that when you take an interesting topic like marijuana, it needs to be fully developped to hold your attention and make you think. Even the music by Raju Singh seems forced into the narrative; “Yeh dhuan” is the pick of the lot filmed on Namrata.

In terms of performances, Irfan Khan was superb. He can act, but I hope he can begin working on some positive roles, rather than a villain. Uday and Jimmy look odd playing cops. The female leads have no roles. The film could’ve done without Namrata or Hrishitaa because both their characters are incomplete. From the other supporting roles: Varun Badola stands out as a Afghani terrorist. The dialogues between him and Irfan are entertaining to an extent.

Frankly, when I heard Tigmanshu Dhulia was making this film, I got interested because I was impressed with his film Haasil. Actually, many people were surprised that he was a good storyteller for the film, but with Charas, he fails to bring life to a topic that was rarely seen in a Bollywood film.

Recommendation: Its not the worst movie of the year, but its not the best either. Charas had the potential to be a good film, if the story did not become tiresome at parts.

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