Audiences weaned on less demanding Hindi thrillers might find the first half of Main Aur Charles a bit of a challenge to decipher. Its pace is sluggish and the plot detailing is somewhat hazy. Bollywood biopics usually tend to be horrendously bloated and overwrought. Main Aur Charles is anything but. If that isn't enough of an incentive, watch it for Randeep Hooda's alluring French drawl and Adil Hussain's sturdy presence.
Main Aur Charles is very seductive film. Just like it’s deadly subject, Charles Sobhraj. You don’t really mind the missing hard-boiled plot, because by the time the film ends, we are treated to well-shot frames and the amazing theme music. Style wins. The seduction is complete.
The film should have been riveting. But it comes off as a slapdash, confused collage of scenes involving the famous jail break in which the real life Sobhraj broke free with several prisoners: it was the kind of astoundingly brazen ‘kaand’ whose reverberations were felt in the system for a long time. Hussain tries hard, but is left to flounder. Randeep Hooda has it. He needed a better film.
Randeep is convincing; the uncanny physical resemblance and accent help bring Charles alive. Most of the supporting cast is good, but Adil Hussain is a notch above. Prawaal Raman does a commendable job of recreating the 60s-70s. He also gets his protagonist's physicality and smugness bang on. Working on a wafer-thin account given to him by the real-life Delhi cop, Amod Kanth, Raman still manages to infuse life (at least partly) into this film and into the life of the notorious killer.
Main Aur Charles is a film that tells its tale with calculated intent -- coolly, cleverly, taking its time -- mirroring the dry panache of its self-assured protagonist. Let us not delve into what happens in the film -- because Raman springs many a pleasurable surprise -- but concentrate instead on the devilishly fine details.
What’s Good: The sheer charm that Randeep Hooda naturally exudes while playing the theatrical con-man/baddie Charles Sobhraj. It is a treat to see him nail the act! What’s Bad: I wish the writer’s had dug deeper into the story of Sobhraj than presenting us with something that we already know. The film misses out on the detailing. Multiple timelines are thrown into your faces, expecting the audience to keep a keen attention on where the story is going.
Main Aur Charles gains some momentum in the second half and gives us a closer look at Shobhraj, the man, but does not dig deeper into his psyche or reveals much about him. You should avoid this film at all costs: The narrative offers nothing at all and despite the good performances, badly-sketched characters leave little for the actors to do.
Randeep Hooda really gets under the skin of Sobhraj. Not just the clothes, slicked back hair, and walk, but everything. Watch it for Randeep Hooda, his performance is the single most reason you might want to check out Main Aur Charles this weekend.