When London-based Sam Higgins goes missing in the Ladakh region of India, his friend, Dev Anand, travels there in order to locate him. He finds this region to be quite different from the rest of India, as a matter of fact, Indians are regarded with suspicion and distrust, while the majority of the population appears to be Spanish, Italians, and other foreign nationals. The region does have a Police Station, but they are of no help to Dev, on the contrary they suspect him of being a smuggler of illicit drugs and ammunition. Dev's inquiries lead to conclude that he must meet a mysterious man named "Policeman" who has taken over the region and is feared by everyone. He also finds out that this region is well-known for attracting foreigners as opium is grown in vast quantities. As Dev starts to delve into these details, quite unknown to him, he himself has become a target for the dreaded "Policeman", and may not even live long enough to find out what happened to Sam Higgins.
A police officer gets embroiled in a deadly game with drug mafia, while searching for his long lost friend from London.
In my review of ROG, I had mentioned that I have pledged myself to try and watch every movie Irfan Khan acts in. Charas falls within that line of study, and I am again kept far away from disappointment.
Charas, "A work of fiction based on real facts", tells the story of a Heron plantation "somewhere in the hills of India" that produces the best Heroin in the world, the man who runs it and the involvements of other power-players with it - from international Mafia, to cops, to politicians. In midst of all this, a British desi cop is trying to find a lost Englishman with the help of a street-guide from Delhi.
The two lead pairs: Jimmy Shergil as the Brit-desi cop, Uday Chopra as the Delhi-street-smart-guide, Hrishita Bhatt as a girl from the Hills & Namrata Shrodkar as a sort of con-girl play convincing roles for the looks, but not much can be said about their performances. For that matter, none of the performances add any credibility to any of the actors, except for the man - Irfan Khan. Afer watching a few movies of his, I realize he has his own style of portrayal, and he just tweaks a few knobs to become the character he is to. He is something like a desi serious Vince Vaughn - one style, but easily fits anything.
Charas is directed by the wonderful Tigmanshu Dhulia; he also made the taut Haasil with half the stars of this movie. This man belongs to the wave of directors that Bollywood has seen come-up in the past few years. These people work on a script, and then stick to it. They work on smaller budgets, base their story in the real world, and do not have chorus dancers at the drop of every emotion. These movies make a watch, more than anything for their departure from mainstream formulaic commercialism. And Charas falls in the above-average bracket of movies made within the said. Yes, it is lacking in some places, but quite fulfilling too. And most fulfilling in it's telling. The way the story progresses and unfolds is quite a treat. The characters are also quite deep, each driven with his/her own beliefs. I so did not miss any of the Khans . The songs are not speed-bumps but still unnecessary.
On the whole, a definitive watch for those people who think Bollywood is all stereotypical. I've lent the DVD to a friend who "does not believe in Hindi movies".
My Rating --> 3.5 of 5 Timangshu Dhulia, in my opinion, is one of the more talented filmmakers in the Bollywood jungle. His debut film, Haasil, was quite an honest attempt at showing prevalence of student politics in northern India. It suffered from shoddy editing but the intensity of the director and the actors were enough to hold the movie together. Charas has the same intensity from the actors, particularly Irfan (my favourite). But it seems Dhulia is trying to make a noveau Hare Rama Hare Krishna, what with the choppy editing and the hippie feel to the film. There are moments in Charas when I was completely engrossed and then the next minute the tension falls flat. It was a classic case of so near yet so far. 646f9e108c
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