release date: May 3, 2022
director: yasir nawaz
review by: hassan hassan
Witnessing an artist’s experiment with his work and exploring his range is indeed an exciting affair for both artist and viewer. A viewer and lover of Pakistani cinema would surely be on the lookout for a director venturing into newer territory, who is known for making films in the rather convenient rom-com genre. yasir nawaz’s chakkar draws attention primarily for its unique theme among the five eid releases, and leaves the viewer entertained, for the most part.
the whodunit, chakkar, produced and directed by yasir nawaz, follows two identical twin sisters: zara, a diva whose career is rapidly corroding as she makes enemies left and right, and the meek mehreen, a housewife whose sole purpose seems to be to make her marriage work with her impetuous husband, played by ahsan khan. Mehreen’s husband despises Zara because of her showbiz career, but the two sisters have a pretty strong bond.
zara suggests a swap with her sister, both to spice things up in her sister’s dull life and to seek respite from the constantly changing fortunes she faces in her career. however, the change is shortly followed by the murder of a sister, which triggers a search and introduces shehzad (yasir nawaz) to find out who committed the murder.
yasir nawaz’s encouraging step
It’s heartening to witness the willingness of an established filmmaker known for making hit comedies to experiment with a new genre, one largely unexplored in the last twenty years. Yasir also sticks very closely to the fictionalized nature of the film, rather than adding unnecessary masala elements to meet cinematic demands, as has happened with many Bollywood and Lollywood murder mysteries since the ’90s and beyond. the filmmaker shows palpable signs of maturity.
the dance number
A dance number is understandably included, as Zara is a film actor who has proven himself working with various artists in the industry. it’s a whole different matter that this dance number is poorly choreographed by nigah hussain in a rather unattractive setting (the dance master needs to prove that he is not a director’s choreographer and could deliver better choreography than in movies made by asim and nabeel). the presence of a couple of Pakistani stars may be the only saving grace of this song.
a goofy character placement is the only exception in chakkar, added for comic relief. Lawyer Iqbal Cheema, played by the brilliant Ahmad Hussain, turns out to be a major pivot as the climax hits. however, iqbal’s comedy doesn’t work all the time and seems over the top. there are bits of jokes from inspector shehzad and his team of investigators, scattered throughout the narrative to lighten things up in the otherwise serious script. Fortunately, almost all of these jokes work. The comedy is indeed “situational” and “the comedic value suits the character it’s in,” as co-producer Nida Yasir once mentioned when she talked about the film in one of her interviews.
neelam muneer performance
Although most of the actors act adequately, we feel a bit let down by neelam muneer. she has a great track record on television. however, her performance on the big screen leaves a lot to be desired. she has yet to show her range as an actor besides being a pretty face, or a brash girl who lives on her own terms (wrong no 2). her dialogue delivery in many places seems wooden, showing no range of emotions. Despite having to play a dual role, she ends up underperforming both characters, and the result is the general audience’s lack of feeling towards both characters.
yasir nawaz as shehzad
The same can also be applied to the character of yasir, in parts. he remains serious in most places and seems restless at times, especially when he is required to act. the climactic sequence features a scuffle between yasir and ahsan which, while cleverly choreographed, is marred by the overuse of body doubles.
ahsan khan’s character
Ahsan’s character shows some layers and plays the role well, but as with the other two leads, his character could have been developed more in the first half, instead of being limited as an angry man who hates his sister . law.
screen time is wasted in the first half, showing yasir’s team working on crime and looking for clues. their efforts become monotonous, especially when the same music plays in the background every time their investigators appear on screen. the romantic ballad, though extremely beautifully rendered, seems forced. among the other shortcomings, the background soundtrack is one of the film’s weakest points. the tone of the movie could have been darkened even more with the proper use of lights and color grading, as the serious scenes in the movie look unnecessarily well-lit, especially in the first half.
The second half, however, overcomes this flaw and, thankfully, looks pretty gritty. most of the surprise components and twists of the film are saved for the last twenty minutes. keeps you off the edge of your seat and wanting to know how things play out. the final act is put together quite impressively and the film lives up to its name. however, one of the main characters (zara) is forgotten while the creators focus on the protagonists.
despite his visible flaws, chakkar continues to succeed as a conniving artist. If the entire movie had been shot and edited the same way the last 30 minutes were shot, it would have been a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. however, the fact that the film differs in terms of its unique genre should work in its favor. Yasir’s detour from romantic comedy to murder mystery isn’t the only reason to enjoy the film. Chakkar may not be the best murder mystery you’ve ever seen, but you shouldn’t miss it either.