Round and round we go – Chakkar: Review

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By Maliha Rehman

A belligerent filmstar. A vicious murder. Twin sisters. Chases across old Karachi’s polluted alleys. Policemen, gunshots, nosy neighbors. And a mad rush to figure out whodunit. True to its name, Chakkar’s storyline goes round and round in circles. You don’t know who is good and who is bad. You don’t know how the story will proceed. As murder mysteries go, producer Nida Yasir and director Yasir Nawaz opted for a script that had just the right ingredients.

Zara Khan, played by Neelam Muneer, is a tempestuous, notorious filmstar, living the high life in a luxurious apartment and quickly making enemies due to her difficult nature. In contrast, her twin sister Mehreen – also Neelam Muneer – enjoys the simple domestic life and being married to the no-nonsense Kabir, enacted by Ahsan Khan. Kabir and Zara hate each other and this is clarified early in the story when the two have a shouting match outside Kabir’s flat and he repetitively tells his wife not to meet with her sister. Mehreen meets her sister secretly when her husband is not around and while Zara often quips about the cranky Kabir, Mehreen is evidently in love with him – a point driven home with a musical dream sequence featuring the song ‘Dil Haaray’ sung beautifully by Shafqat Amanat Ali and Momina Mustehsan and one of the movie’s high points.

Kabir is off on a work trip when Zara suggests that she and Mehreen switch places so that her sister can experience the exciting life of a filmstar. Mehreen agrees and then, a murder takes place. The police enters the story, with Shahzad, played by Yasir Nawaz, leading them. Shahzad, according to his head enacted by Javed Sheikh, is the department’s most ‘perfect detective’ – given how often he blunders, he serves as an apt example of the country’s weak crime control system!

Kabir is accused of being the murderer but he manages to escape from jail. Detective Shahzad and his team are fast on his trail. Kabir and Mehreen’s neighbor Iqbal Cheema is an important cogwheel in the chakra: naturally garrulous and very inquisitive, he becomes embroiled in the Mehreen-Zara-Kabir-Shahzad mystery, initially just providing comic relief and later, becoming essential to the story.

And the story goes round and round. You don’t know who to suspect and who not to. There are twists that upend the narrative and take it into new directions. It makes for an interesting watch.

Ahsan Khan looks good and acts very well as Kabir. The same cannot be said about Neelam Muneer, whose performance could have had been less stilted. She occasionally acts well, , particularly as the vicious Zara but her inclusion in the song which opens the movie – a somewhat chaste ‘item’ offering called ‘Chirya’ – is perhaps her weakest moment. The choreography and dance movements are far too mechanical. Also, choreographer Nigah very evidently did not pay attention to the background dancers. Yasir Nawaz acts very well as the head detective.

One of the movie’s main highlights, though, is the very young Ahmed Hasan, who put on spectacles, a moustache and a paunch to play the nosy Cheema.

Coming to the lows, the editing could have had been crisper. Why does the drama disjointedly ricochet from a train to the Karachi skyline to a whizzing road, for no rhyme or reason? Where does Neelam Muneer’s character disappear to right at the end? Chakkar has so much going for it in terms of story and acting. More polished editing could have improved the movie manifold and made the narrative more mature.

Nevertheless, this movie’s fun. It’s also the very first movie in recent times to dabble towards the murder mystery genre. For Yasir Nawaz, it’s a complete change in pace, with him shifting from the lighthearted romantic comedy realm to a more serious form of storytelling.

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Round and round we go – Chakkar: Review