Director: R. Balki
Writer: R. Balki, Raja Sen, Rishi Virmani
Cast: Sunny Deol, Dulquer Salmaan, Shreya Dhanwanthary
Fifteen minutes before the first show of Chup: The Revenge of the Artist was due to start, the theatre in a multiplex in suburban Mumbai looked desolate. There were barely six people scattered across the hall, which seemed odd for a film that had seen record advance bookings. However, by the time the film began, practically every seat was filled. There was a hum of expectation in the air. “The ticket’s for Rs. 75 and the movie has Sunny Deol. Banta hai, boss,” said one audience member before unleashing enthusiastic catcalls for Hrithik Roshan, who appeared on screen in the Vikram Vedha trailer.
Sunny Deol is definitely one of the better features of Chup, a mystery set in Mumbai, featuring a serial killer who is targeting film critics. Deol plays Arvind, a taciturn cop who is heading the investigation. The first murder leaves a tubby film critic sitting on the toilet, naked. His dead body has been slashed multiple times and his modesty is protected by a roll of toilet paper. This is just the beginning. Two more spectacularly gory murders follow, with stars carved on the critics’ heads to mimic the star rating system of reviews. (We’d just like to state for the record that Film Companion stopped doing star ratings years ago, possibly before Chup was a twinkle in director R. Balki’s eye.)
As the bodies of film critics start piling up, Arvind tries to figure out who is behind these elaborately staged crimes. Meanwhile a young entertainment reporter named Nila (Shreya Dhanwanthary) is introduced to the story with the sole purpose of being bait for the serial killer. Before she can fulfil this function, she provides some distraction from the murders when she walks into a quaint little flower shop and finds herself faced with tulips and Dulquer Salmaan. Salmaan plays a florist who seems to live a dream life — he has a bungalow in Bandra and no boss breathing down his neck while he potters around the nursery in his home. However, as any one with a dating life will tell you, when a single man seems too good to be true, chances are you’re going to regret having dated him. Or as one young man in the audience put it during intermission, “See, you go for a guy who looks like Dulquer, this is what happens. This is why aam janta like us are better. What you see is what you get.”