‘Chaaver’ movie review: Tinu Pappachan’s craft fails to save a poorly-written film

Direction: Tinu Pappachan

Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Arjun Ashokan, Manoj K.U., Sangita

Storyline: A gang is on the run after what seems to be a political killing. An unsuspecting medical student, who lands up to treat an injury sustained by one of them, becomes entangled in the conflict.

Runtime: 129 minutes

Occupying the centre of the narrative in Tinu Pappachan’s Chaaver are three bombs – one of which fails to explode when it was supposed to, another which goes off unexpectedly at an inopportune moment and a third one which remains unused. By the end of it all, one is left wondering whether the scriptwriter had meant these bombs to be an overarching metaphor for the entire movie, which, except for a couple of inopportune explosions, ends us as nothing more than a wet cracker.

Political murders and violence-ridden Kannur becomes the focus in 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, despite the lack of a coherent script. Here too, he attempts to provide an elevating experience with all the carefully crafted action sequences, but there is only so much elevation that a script filled with hot air can provide.

‘Chaaver’ opens with what seems to be a political murder. The gang involved in the killing -Ashokan (Kunchacko Boban), Musthafa (Manoj K.U.), 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 up in their jeep and becomes entangled in the conflict. Well, that’s almost a spoiler, for the movie really does not take off beyond this initial setting.

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’ too, the result is along similar lines, 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, or with an earth shattering explosion inside a well.

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 what is at best a peripheral role.

‘Chaaver’ becomes an example of 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 cinemas

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