One shudders to think how the film would have sustained even the slightest of interest amongst audience if not for it's experienced/talented actors. With a bunch of actors who could have just elevated the film to a different level had they been presented with a strong enough script, 'Chaalis Chauraasi' was indeed a blessed project. However what you get to see is a long drawn affair that holds your attention only intermittently.
While watching 'Chalis Chauraasi', you are reminded of two films. One is Naserruddin Shah's lesser known flick 'Barah Aana' and another is director Hriday Shetty's own 'Plan'. If one remembers 'Plan', it was about a gang of guys coming together to 'plan' a heist. Similarly 'Barah Aana' too was about three lower middle class men (led by Naseruddin Shah) who took the road to crime. Now 'Chalis Chauraasi' too comes with a similar premise.
Four men (Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni, Kay Kay Menon and Ravi Kishan) come together to loot a gang of currency worth 20 crores and hatch a seemingly impossible plan. They pose as policemen and believe that this would be good enough to overpower the goons/terrorists. However there is a twist in the tale waiting to happen which proves to be a spanner in their plan.
Yes, there are times when you are really engaged in the proceedings or do chuckle at a scene or two. On the other hand there are some scenes that just go and on that ends up being really yawn inducing. This is most visible during the flashback sequence where the back story of each of the four protagonists is detailed. While the one featuring Kulkarni is the most interesting of the lot, the other two with Naseer and Ravi engage only in bits and pieces. As for Kay Kay's track, it is the weirdest of them as he goes around destroying vintage cars in the town for an unbelievable reason.
The twist in the tale moments after the intermission is quite interesting and makes one expect a much better second half. You do sense that as well once the real cop (Rajesh Sharma) enters the proceedings. The sequence where a hotel is raided opens well too though it is so overtly extended that after a point it ceases to hold your attention. Thankfully some witty interludes featuring Atul Kulkarni and Kay Kay Menon does bring in a laugh or two but how one wishes Shetty would have either infused more humour or kept the episode short.
Once 'Chaalis Chauraasi' reaches its final episode, there is another twist in the tale that promises to bring back 'Chaalis Chauraasi' on track. Unfortunately though instead of the momentum going up, it only slides downwards with the entire fight sequence featuring the four protagonists, the real cops and the goons turning out to be one big farce. Neither does it take the hardcore action route nor does it manage to bring a smile on your face, hence turning out to be plain mediocre in the end.
As an actor, Naseeruddin Shah does what he is asked to and is pretty much at ease. Atul Kulkarni steals the show and gets some of the meatiest scenes/dialogues. Ravi Kissen is marred by patchy characterisation while Kay Kay Menon is the most under utilised of them all. Moreover, his monologue while he is destroying a car is jarring to say the least.
Hriday Shetty tries to tell an action tale with a generous dose of comedy to it. Nothing wrong with that though the trouble is that the overall narrative turns out to be a tad patchy. This is the reason why one feels a tad saddened at the way 'Chalis Chauraasi' plays itself out. It is a film which could have been much better.