Rating: 2/5 Stars (Two stars)
Star Cast: Randeep Hooda, Richa Chadda
Director: Prawaal Raman
What’s Good: The sheer charm that Randeep Hooda naturally exudes while playing the theatrical con-man/baddie Charles Sobhraj. It is a treat to see him nail the act!
What’s Bad: I wish the writer’s had dug deeper into the story of Sobhraj than presenting us with something that we already know. The film misses out on the detailing. Multiple timelines are thrown into your faces, expecting the audience to keep a keen attention on where the story is going.
Loo Break: Recurring scenes of Charles’ silhouette smoking could suffice!
Watch or Not?: The problem with Main Aur Charles is that it strives hard to be high on style but low on content. It constantly lets you down with the way the story is heading. If you feel like getting a whiff of the 80s and transcend into the hippie culture, you could watch the film but for more knowledge on Sobhraj, I suggest google is better.
Main Aur Charles chronicles around the life of charismatic con artist and serial killer Charles Sobhraj who rose to fame in the early 80s and came to be known as the ‘Bikini killer’. Charles’ approach was to befriend his victims, mainly foreign tourists who moved across Thailand, Goa and Nepal on hippie trails, drug them and steal their passports.
In the first ten minutes of the film, we learn about Sobhraj’s (Randeep Hooda) sly escape from Thailand after killing one tourist who is found dead ashore.
From there, the film picks up the story of Sobhraj’s infamous 1986 jail break from Delhi. His co-conspirators in the jail break, Robert (Alex O Nell), a jail-mate from London who is caught for drug peddling and a young criminal law student Meera Sharma (Richa Chaddha) are seen spilling their story of meeting Charles.
Charles’ nemesis, Amod Kanth (Adil Hussain) is the anchor who is telling the story and hence the ‘Main Aur Charles’. Disgusted with the attitude of the media of making Sobhraj a cult hero instead of a villain, Kanth is seen venting out frustrations even when his wife (Tisca Chopra) questions about Charles’ talked-about intelligence.
Eventually, the story is a cat and mouse chase of Sobhraj and Kanth
Main Aur Charles Review: Script Analysis
The luxury with which Prawaal Raman has created the 80s era and even managed to stylize Sobhraj quite perfectly, I wish the same had been maintained in the storytelling as well. While the style prevails, we are missing out on a gripping story that could have been built around the jail break and Sobhraj’s clear personality disorders. What Raman does manage is that he gives us two brilliantly crafted characters, Sobhraj and Kanth but fails to exploit their natures in the story.
He cramps too much information at once and you are literally being asked to be attentive as if it is a class for quantum physics. Multiple timelines have been depicted but their presentation is quite bizarre. The plot comes across as too convulted for a layman audience. Thankfully, he maintains the dialogues well, with not too many colorful punchlines as opposed to the Bollywood trend when it comes to criminal sagas.
Also, the whole passport snatching is shown with such ease that you truly question if the immigration processes were that sloppy before. There is little attention given to how Charles escapes with it so easily.
As the story moves forward, Raman even chucks a few characters from the scene without giving them a closure, like the Princes Malvika case who disappears from the story quite soon.
All in all, what it lacks essentially is an intelligent script.
Main Aur Charles Review: Star Performance
Randeep Hooda takes on the silver screen as the ‘Bikini Killer’ Charles Sobhraj and well he does exude a remarkable charm. Hooda nails the body language and tries hard to produce a genuine accent which seems uncomfortable at start but settles decently well later. I wish the character had been written with more grit for Randeep to shine in it even more.
Adil Hussain is a clear winner in this film. As Amod Kanth, he does a commendable job. It is not just his interrogation sessions that work but the scenes where Hussain deals with Charles’ popularity in personal life that are noteworthy. In one of the scenes where he yells at his wife and a constable about Charles being nothing more than a ‘crook’ is superb.
Richa Chadda’s character Meera Sharma is kept tight and it works for the film. She is a love-struck criminal law student who is a victim of Charles’ charm and so mesmerized by him that she becomes an accomplice in his plan for jail break in the lieu of marrying him in future. She is seen defending his behavior with such might and those scenes are definitely crafted nicely.
Nandu Madhav is an excellent Marathi actor and he is seen in a small role of Sudhakar Zhende, the Mumbai cop who first caught Sobhraj in Goa. The actor does a noticeable job.
Iranian model, Mandana Karimi does a cameo in the film. There is nothing more to her character than her bare-back scene.
Main Aur Charles Review: Music, Direction
Films dealing with crime, sex, drugs and con need to be full on flavor and theatrics and Raman’s Main Aur Charles gets that. The presentation of the late 80s when it comes to fashion is bang on so full marks for Raman on the visual aspects. Another impressive thing about the direction is the choice of lighting for scenes. One of the scenes which forms as an importation exchange of dialogues between Sobhraj and Kanth is handled nicely with the play of lights.
What clearly does not work for the film is it’s not-so-tight screenplay. Also, to portray Charles’ unmissable charm with the ladies, the director throws in a few messy intimate scenes which form quite a waste of time. Recurring frames of Charles smoking don’t make up for the lack of a tight story-telling and there is certainly no need to glorify it.
The background score is extremely irritating and repetitive may I say. Each time that Charles enters a frame, he has a score that is jarringly bad. Also in certain scenes, it is a give away for the story that will unfold.
Main Aur Charles Review: The Last Word
Main Aur Charles is too gimmicky and hence even though not Randeep’s but the film’s charm wears off pretty soon. It fails to come across as a potent criminal drama and so for it’s loose treatment it gets a 2/5 from me.
Main Aur Charles Trailer
Main Aur Charles releases on 2nd October, 2015.
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