The Pinkvilla Review: Main Aur Charles

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Charles Sobhraj is a master con-artist who believed deception is an art. It is, hence, ironical that a film depicting his colourful shades ends up being such a drab and quite a bore for most of the first part. Prawaal Raman's Main Aur Charles can hardly be a tribute the man with its discrepancies. It is understandable that Charles had to be created out of thin air, since very little research matter is available on him and the team didn't have the privilege of a first hand research while shooting. The lack of detailing shows in the way Charles is carved, despite Randeep Hooda's bewitching act. It is tricky to point out what exactly goes wrong with the film. While a lot is going right in the film especially its delicious twists and turns and the macabre feel of its milieu, it falls weak due to the lack of a strong narrative. Somewhere in between the written word and the screen, Main Aur Charles loses its soul. 

While, one may have their own set of reservations about how Charles is glorified in this film, making him look like a superhuman. Probably it is the character's cool-as-a-cucumber personality, mixed with his vicious shades that makes him crackling. Prawaal believes in being understated and doesn't go into superfluous elaboration of the psyche of his characters, an unnecessary back story et al. In crime-thrillers, deducing is a key element and the director's faith in his audience is touching, given the general tendency of dumbing down viewers with garish, harebrained films. The film demands patience as it slowly peels off the mystery towards the climax.

Like all films of this genre, what plagues it is the convenience with which the crime is conducted. Fleeing one country to another couldn't have been all that easy for Charles. What we see on screen is extremely contrived and often convoluted, with many scenes involving the superhuman Charles, almost lacking logic. It is almost a given that in such films, the lead man should make you root for him but that doesn't quite happen in Main Aur Charles. Yes, Randeep is majestic but his sketchily written part never allows him to rise above the script. 

The first half has far too much information to digest. It feels very crammed up. Prawaal shows promise in his style of direction. Recreating 70s and 80s with such neatness couldn't have been easy but the film successfully catapults you back to the era when the bikini killer was leaving corpses on the beaches of Pattaya. One can only fault the director for losing his focus to style more than substance. We wish he had focussed more on his tricky personality rather than on his classy taste and his suave personality.

For a long time, the film's story is a jigsaw puzzle and really chaotic. Though the entry of actors like Adil Hussain balance the act, the film takes far too long to culminate into something solid. Though Hussain's colleagues (cops) are quite a letdown in the show, he singlehandedly tries to bring back the film from the gallows. He quite literally uplifts the story and the only treat the movie offers is the chase game between Charles and Adil Hussain's character Amod Kant. Amod's victory lies in the very fact that he can look through the charm and apparent genius of Charles. For the righteous Amod, he is a criminal and Adil Hussain does justice to it. It would be unfair to take anything away from Randeep but Adil eats the terrain. A large part of the reason could be because of how the film is fashioned. The entire first half is too scattered and Randeep is way too subtle to be impactful. It is only after Randeep and Adil are put together, that the headiness of this concoction begins to set in. It is amazing how these men manage to beguile sans the dialoguebaazi Bollywood is associated with.

Prawaal also makes his female characters more than just flesh Charles gets to grope. Richa Chadha who plays Mira is enamoured by Charles and is a voluntary lover to the serial killer. She is refreshing to watch and stands out amongst the hordes of women Charles beds. The director also regularly takes a break from the story to focus on Charles' style which is quite a break in the story's flow.

In the end, the film throws up a bunch of interesting ideas which doesn't come together coherently in the plot. The prime problem is that the film is too much soul and very less substance. It was promising but half-baked, with the thrills falling short in supply.

We rate the film a 40% on the Pinkvilla Movie Meter.

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Not seen the movie , so I can't comment on it , but I do agree that Sobhraj is not worth the subject of a movie. An unscrupulous murderer does not (& should not) be glorified !

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