Chatrapathi Movie Review: There comes a scene in the second half of the film when our action hero Shiva (played by Bellamkonda Sreenivas) is seated in his car, confused with the turn of events in his life and tells his friends, “Ye sab kya ho raha hai." I instantly replied to the on-screen character, “Same, ye kya ho raha hai!" Chatrapathi makes you ask this question time and again, probably every 20 minutes and surprisingly, the film is only two hours and a few odd minutes long.
A remake of the Telugu film of the same name, which released in 2005 and starred Prabhas, Chatrapathi marks Bellamkonda Sreenivas’ Bollywood debut. Helmed by V. V. Vinayak, best known for his action-comedy and masala films, Chatrapathi has Sreenivas sharing the screen with Nushrratt Bharuccha, Sharad Kelkar, Bhagyashree and Karan Singh Chhabra, among others.
The film is dated, set in what seems to be early 2000s — based on the old style phones being used in the movie — and revolves around a boy named Shiva and his half brother Ashok. Born in Pakistan, the siblings and their mother (played by Bhagyashree) are forced to migrate to a small sea-side village in Gujurat in 1985. Unfortunately though, Shiva is torn away from his family due to the chaos unfolding during the evacuation.
Shiva and a few local villagers take help from a powerful village head who orders the migrants to sign their life off to him. Shiva and his friends are forced to be slaves to the village head and performed illegal deeds to ensure their life is spared. Years go by and Shiva’s tolerance to the slavery is often tested. However, he refrains from acting on his anger. Instead, he decides to invest his time looking for his long lost mother and brother with the help of Nushrratt Bharuccha’s character. His search comes to an end soon enough but his hurdles are far from over. The movie follows his fight with injustice against his village folks and his path of reunion with his mother.
Now, I have not seen the original film so I won’t be the right person to compare. However, the concept of Chatrapathi on paper isn’t bad. Typical family lost in a chaos, one child turns good while others bad only to have them go through situations that tests their characters and upbringing formula is a tried and test one in Bollywood. The film’s story writer V. Vijayendra Prasad packs in all the elements and characters to make this a masala watch, even though it seems dated.
However, the screenplay, dialogues and uneven editing makes this film a tad difficult to sit through. Chatrapathi feels like a series of scenes just patched together to ensure timely release. A lot of continuity errors and location errors are visible. You could easily guess a few scenes were not shot in a small village in Bhavnagar (where the story is set) but at a luxury hotel in Mumbai’s Juhu area, leaving us wondering if director V. V. Vinayak even remotely tries to be factually right with the timeline.
Besides the error in locations, props were also conveniently introduced in scenes out of the blue, leaving you confused where it appeared from. For example, just before the climax scene, Shiva declares that he will be leading the village into freedom. While he stands in the rain and delivers the freedom speech at midnight, out of nowhere, an umbrella appears and he is escorted out of the venue underneath it, showing his upgraded prominence. In another scene, wherein Shiva and his lady love are attacked, it is shown that their car is at the edge of the road. However, suddenly, it is in the middle of the road and is surrounded by the enemies’ cars. These scenes feel like a lot was chopped in order to make the duration less and in the process, the makers turned a blind eye to the continuity.
Nevertheless, Chatrapathi boasts of some impressive, slow motion action scenes, a template very common in Telugu films. The action sequence are choreographed well and it surprisingly draws you into the movie more than the drama playing out in the film.
The biggest disppointment from the film are the main four cast members. It is hard to gauge if it is bad writing or lack of direction focused for Bollywood audience but Bellamkonda Sreenivas, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Bhagyashree and Karan Singh Chhabra deliver uneven performances. Sreenivas tries his best to deliver a Rohit Shetty meets Salman Khan style massy performance and in a few places manages to deliver but there are scenes in which he looks confused about how to emote. The strange switch in scenes — from a relatively sad scene to an instant switch to a song — acts as a hinderance in his performance.
Nushrratt seems like she was roped in only to star in four songs of the film. She has only five scenes in which she is given the scope to act but that also goes by before you could even grasp as to what is going on. Honestly, Bhagyashree deserved a better and toned down role. Her emotional scenes are written so messily that it is difficult to empathise with her. Karan felt weak as a grey shaded brother.
The saving grace of Chatrapathi were Sharad Kelkar, Sahil Vaid, and Amit Shivdas Nair, among others. The cinematography is also kept grand, in order to match the massy vibe of the film.
Bottomline: Chatrapathi is good on paper but deserved a better execution. The film feels like it wants to be a Salman Khan massy movie with a vision of Rohit Shetty but doesn’t goes through with the idea.