Cast: Soha Ali Khan, Ankur Khanna, Victor Banerjee, Kiera Chaplin, Roopa Ganguly, Zeenat Aman, Shayan Munshi, Karthik Kumar, Arundhati Nag
A slice of life film, focusing on three separate relationships that intertwine through love, loss, light drizzles, heavy literary references and destiny.
You don't need to pass an IQ test (read: Intellectual Quotient) to watch this one. Yes, the story meanders listlessly through intense characters, complex relationships, intellectual quote-dropping and dialogues that are straight out of a philosophy class; yet it's not a total bouncer, one does end up understanding some of it.
Chaurahen is three stories set in different cities - Mumbai, Kochi, Kolkata - that eventually converge, or are at least meant to. Ira (Soha Ali Khan) is caught in a relationship with Farooq ( Ankur Khanna), a grief-stricken man grappling with the memories of his dead parents. Weirdly, this depressed soul even preserves his dead daddy's dentures, with the 'last crumbs of bread' still stuck in those teeth (gross). Dr. Bose (Victor Banerjee) and Mrs. Bose (Roopa Ganguly) are suffering a passionless marriage constantly enveloped in a ghostly silence, from a painful past. Lea (Keira Chaplin) is a stereotypical foreigner trying to find the 'meaning of life' in the mystical land of India. Nandu (Karthik Kumar), along with his family is coping with unbearable loss, while finding an identity in his own home. Caught between intellectual dilemmas, overbearing grief and unchangeable truths - they are all at crossroads.
Soha Ali Khan carries this role with grace and a casualness that is impressive. Though her intellectual riddles throughout the film, are sometimes overbearing. Victor Banerjee and Roopa Ganguly, play the estranged married couple with a strong, silent dignity. Kiera Chaplin seems fairly inexpressive on her part. Arundhati Nag's dialogues and emotions are endearing. Karthik Kumar underplays his character well, displaying a reserved restlessness that makes him very likeable.
Rajshree Ojha works on this complex subject with a certain sensibility, without dramatizing it beyond reason. Though at times she over intellectualizes it with too many literary references and prolonged moments. There are some scenes that are well executed (like the outburst and subsequent unfolding of emotions in Nandu's family), but it ends on a predictable note that doesn't move you to tears, or fuel an intellectual overdrive.
Tip: If you are looking for a masala entertainer; this indie film isn't for you. For lovers of the artsy, here's the green signal. Cross over.