We, the true cinema lovers often complain that Bollywood and on a broader scale Indian Cinema does not use its large base of literature (of any language) as source of inspiration or outright adaptation. Seldom do we see movies based on novels and short stories but out of the blue at times there comes a movie such as Chaurahen. There isn’t much need to get too excited yet since watching Chaurahen would explain why Bollywood directors do not attempt to adapt literature and why they should avoid it in the future.
Chaurahen is essentially a story of longing, for something. It can be longing of a bereaved man who has lost his parents, as in the case of Mumbai based Farooq (Ankur Tewari) who has become obsessed with his loss and is not willing to get back to his normal life. He has got himself fixated on everything associated with his parents – the house, the rooms, the towels and everything. In the process Farooq steadily distances him from his initially understanding but later growing apart girlfriend, Ira (Soha Ali Khan). Over to the East, in Kolkata Dr. Bose (Victor Banerjee) and his wife (Rupa Ganguly) are struggling to keep up their marriage (emotionally, physically and mentally) owing to the loss of their only child (we don’t get to know exactly how or why). Dr. Bose finds solace in the arms of a young woman Laia essayed by Keira Chaplin while Rupa Ganguly stares blankly implying a lost sensation through her big beautiful eyes. Moving down south, in Kochi, a family has lost their elder son (Shayan Munshi) on the battlefield and their younger son Naveen (Karthik Kumar) is back from Vienna to stay with his parents (Nedumudi Venu and Arundhati Nag) during the trying times.
Chaurahen which literally means crossroads is a movie which tries to harp on the old saying – horns of a dilemma, a situation where anyone can get stuck in the middle of nowhere and are unable to make a choice which way to take. While Farooq and Ira tend to go apart, the relationship of Dr Bose and his wife is certainly over and Naveen is urged by his father to stay back in Kochi with his family while he wants to head back to Vienna where his future and life, both exist.
The problem with Chaurahen is its treatment, the narrative and the execution of the entire plot. Rajshree Ojha (Director) somehow fails to drive home the message or the problems of the characters. Although the idea was very noble, the lackluster storytelling makes for a painful watch. The stories are not interconnected hence when they are merged; it feels like a compulsion and not a natural story unfolding. The Mumbai plot is weak and does not come across with any impact, the Kolkata episode is half baked and the subtlety does not help. The Kochi aspect works to a certain extent and despite some good performances the direction, editing and music makes Chaurahen an average experience.
Literature can only be done justice to in movies if there is poetry in the narrative or a certain level of cerebral treatment in the direction to match up with the literary aspect. Chaurahen misses all these aspects which make the content of the story fall flat on the audience. One does not completely relate to the stories and all the characters seem to be half sketched and absolutely without any versatility. Reality does not have such one-dimensional characters. There are no shades, there is no engaging montage to compliment the innate complications and thought processes of the characters. There is nothing that would look either cerebral or entertaining. The dragging pace of the movie does not help either. The legendary Victor Banerjee, evergreen Zeenat Aman or the young talented Soha Ali Khan cannot help to salvage the film. Shayan Munshi’s character does not make any impact. Nedumudi Venu, Arundhati Nag, Karthik Kumar are watchable but the rest of the cast fails to make an impact. It is not the fault of the cast at all but that of the Director.
If you like soft and slow movies, Chaurahen is a onetime watch but do not hope for a true Indie film.