Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review:
Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review (Photo Credit: IMDb)

Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review: Star Rating:

Cast: Wamiqa Gabbi, Neena Gupta, Lara Dutta, Naseeruddin Shah, Rachna Pathak Shah, Priyanshu Painyuli, Gulshan Grover, and ensemble.

Creator: Vishal Bhardwaj.

Director: Vishal Bhardwaj

Streaming On: Sony LIV.

Language: Hindi (with subtitles).

Runtime: 6 Episodes Around 45 Minutes Each.


(Photo Credit: IMDb)

Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review: What’s It About:

A filthy rich veteran Brigadier is found dead in his mansion in the snow-clad Solang Valley. His family, well-wishers, and friends are all being put on trial to find out who the murderer is. Charulata Chopra, aka Charlie Chopra (Wamiqa), takes up the job to find the killer. Her quest is what makes Vishal Bhardwaj’s foray into the world of long-format storytelling possible.

Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review: Script Analysis:

Okay, hear me out. It could be an unpopular opinion, but not too bizarre. If you have read one Agatha Christie novel, you know how visually rich the writing is. The words paint an image rather than just meaning something. It is almost like a comic book for adults, but minus pictures, they are in your head because the writing paints, remember? So when Vishal Bhardwaj, with his love for the snow-clad lands, sets out to tell an Agatha story, how exactly does he introduce his complexities to this simple world with a complex problem at hand? Trust Bhardwaj and his genius brain.

Vishal Bhardwaj, with his new-found partner in crime Jyotsana Hariharan (Modern Love: Mumbai, Fursat) and veteran writer Anjum Rajabali (Ghulam, Raajneeti, Toofaan), adapts Agatha Christie’s The Sittaford Mystery in a six-part show, making his OTT debut. The power of Charlie Chopra exists in the fact that it is not about the professionals; the world is not at risk; the outer world has no access to this eco-system; they are hardly even aware of it; it exists in a small realm, which pretty much can be a nightmare that will end up with a city girl waking up pinching herself.

Because how else do you explain a world with only some characters with a smart phone using it for the bare minimum, theatres are still playing Teesri Manzil (1966), and it is set a few years or maybe decades after the outbreak and the havoc of the COVID-19 pandemic. But wait, is Vishal Bhardwaj, with his two writers, trying to complicate this world? A big NO. The filmmaker understands the reach and also the nature of his content. He wants you to be intrigued, but not really confused. And the simplistic approach to the structure of the show is very much a proof.

He uses his genius for writing characters with a voice and specific parts. His leading woman is not an ace detective but instead a self-made budding one. She is not saving national intel when she enters the frame, but helping a groom find his shoes with her intelligence, acting like she is the best. So it is so unserious that when she finally breaks down in a key moment, Bhardwaj ends up giving her a gigantic purpose you never saw coming. Also interesting is how he chooses to introduce his politics to the narrative seamlessly. There is talk about refugees, oppression, killed aspirations, and unrequited love, and nothing ever feels like a tick mark.

What does feel like a tick mark is the fact that Vishal doesn’t give the ace ensemble much to do because the point of attention is Gabbi almost in every scene. There is nothing wrong with her being the centre of it all, but the others needed some room to shine more than they do. Because just look at this cast—how immaculate.

(Photo Credit: IMDb)

Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review: Star Performance:

Wamiqa Gabbi is establishing herself as a force to reckon with in the OTT space, and her rise to becoming a star in this space is what we must all witness with each of her projects. The lady is technically in her third Vishal Bhardwaj project (after Modern Love: Mumbai and Fursat), with the fourth due next week (Kufiya). Midway through Charlie Chopra, one scene when she breaks down on an imaginary phone call to a character better kept undisclosed now, you will know why a maverick filmmaker has put so much trust in her as an actor. There is a certain ease in how she plays Charlie and evolves with the material. Not many can break the fourth wall as good as Gabbi!

Priyanshu Painyuli is another actor who performs with ease. Rohan Shah manages to be noticed with all the glitz on board. Lara Dutta needs to do more of this because her elegance deserves screen time, and only characters like these will do justice to it. Rest assured, everyone, including Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, and Neena Gupta, are veterans and certainly don’t need validation because they are that flawless. Imaad Shah stands out as he plays the little he gets with a very interesting approach that makes us notice him even in the frame where he is not in focus.

Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review: Direction & Music:

It isn’t easy directing a whodunit because the audience is as much a character as your actors. Vishal Bharadwaj is not interested in mending the structure by making it any more entangled than it already is. He takes the episodic approach too seriously, as he goes on hoping from one prospect to the next and also manages to connect the dots well. He is aware and also wants his audience to know that this is a small story that exists in a space and time away from the real world. Very similar to ours but not exactly ours, and that helps to build the mystery well. He even uses ghost-like elements to elevate it. The post-credit scene itself is so fantasy-like that it makes you re-think whether all of this was even true or just a theory.

Charlie Chopra deserved some deeper character analysis of some of the supporting characters visually. We only see them when they explain themselves, not beyond.

Do I need to mention that the music is top-class? There are two Rekha Bharadwaj Ghazals, and I need not say any more. Secretly, they are brilliant.

Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley Review: Last Words:

Charlie Chopra isn’t bulletproof but he isn’t weak either. Vishal Bhardwaj is exploring a new medium fam!

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