Occupying the centre of the narrative in Tinu Pappachan’s Chaaver are three bombs; one which fails to explode when it was supposed to, another which goes off unexpectedly at an inopportune moment, and a third one that remains unused. By the end of it all, one wonders whether the scriptwriter had meant these bombs to be an overarching metaphor for the movie, which, except for a couple of inopportune explosions, ends as nothing more than a wet cracker.
Political murders and violence-ridden Kannur is in the spotlight of the umpteenth movie in recent years, but the presence of Tinu Pappachan at the helm had raised some hopes, going by what he had managed to pull off in Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil and Ajagajantharam. Here too, he attempts to provide an elevating experience with all the carefully-crafted action sequences. But, a script filled with hot air can offer only so much elevation.
Chaaver opens with what seems to be a political murder. The gang involved in the killing — Ashokan (Kunchacko Boban), Musthafa (K.U.Manoj), Asif (Sajin Gopu), and Thomas (Anuroop) — is soon on the run, but an injury that Ashokan sustained during the act necessitates them to consult a doctor. An unsuspecting medical student, Arun (Arjun Ashokan), unaware of the crime, lands in their jeep and gets entangled in the conflict. Well that’s almost a spoiler, for the movie really does not take off beyond this initial setting.
Director: Tinu Pappachan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Arjun Ashokan, Manoj KU, Sangita
Runtime: 129 minutes
Storyline: A gang is on the run after what appears to be a political killing; then, an unsuspecting medical student lands up in their vehicle to treat an injury sustained by one of them and gets entangled in the conflict.
Joy Mathew, who began a promising second innings as a screenwriter with Shutter a decade ago, has had a disappointing run ever since, with his previous film Uncle (2018) turning out to be a damp squib. In Chaaver, the result is almost the same, with hardly any effort on his part to flesh out the characters, create compelling situations or even have a conflict to speak of. Pappachan and his crew — especially cinematographer Jinto George and music composer Justin Varghese — try their best to paper over the shortcomings of the script, especially with the way they movingly capture the emotional toll of the killing on the dead youth’s relatives and his dog.
But, the sketchily-defined characters or the highly one-sided, propagandistic political narrative that the script puts forward does not help the film. Even Sangita, who is making a comeback after a long time, gets a raw deal with a peripheral role. Chaaver shows why mere technical excellence cannot make a film work. All of Tinu Pappachan’s craft could not save a poorly-written film.
Chaaver is currently running in theatres