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ছক, the Maze: A Desperate Wannabe Crime-Thriller 


R E V I E W – M O V I E


Fiana Islam


*spoiler alert*

Director Golam Sohrab Dodul has acquired a reputation by casting famous faces, such as Arifin Shuvo, Bidya Sinha Mim, Chanchal Chowdhury in his previous crime-thrillers, Shapludu and Neel Dorja (no matter how the story is). As a further contribution to this “not-so-impressive” list, he has recently added another one — Chok, the Maze starring Tahsan and Sporshia. 

Unlike Janowar, Victim, or 14th August, this Cinematic Original doesn’t have any fact based story or impactful script if you are expecting it to. On one side, you will witness Tahsan’s justifying speeches like “Kotota koshto pele ekta manush erokom kaj korte pare”, while encountering a dangerous criminal (who doesn’t look like one to be very honest) for the first time. And, on the other side, there is Sporshia’s signature line, “Jiboner maya dekha jay na, onubhob kora jay”, which makes no sense whatsoever.

Is this somehow written to create the smoke? In my opinion, dialogues like these will either give you a cringe-headache or you will fall asleep halfway. It is a fictional story, we get it, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be illogical.

The story of Chok begins with a random girl murdering a researcher and stealing a file. And then suddenly it jumps into another scene where a pregnant lady (Sporshia) comes to a clubhouse to sell drugs. As soon as she enters the club, she makes casual eye-contact with a waiter called Babu (Tahsan). Later on, this waiter boy saves the lady from getting murdered by committing another murder (what?!). The story progresses as the lady and Babu try to escape from the police. I won’t be giving any further details. 

As soon as the story unfolds, the plot itself starts to get buzzier with every minute that passes. Here’s why:

The 1 hr 33 min long escaping journey of the two lead characters is enough to make anyone yawn. So many things were going on simultaneously but no context was provided for them. The very first scene where an incident of some bomb blast is mentioned does not reach a conclusion nor is it resolved. And, the whole time, you will wonder where exactly the police or investigators are. Each scene is abandoned in the middle without proper closure. However, the filmmakers put a twist at the end which initially makes sense, but then again the whole “maze” setting seems very irrational and kind of haphazard.

Chok, most probably inspired by some random Hindi web-series (certainly, not the good ones) does not even try to create any tensions in between, let alone the wrap-up. There is no suspense regardless of what the title says. The promotional poster, which depicts the lead female character in a seductive pose that somehow resembles the Bollywood actress Paoli Dam’s appearance in the poster of Hate Story (2012), was most likely marketed to portray the film as salacious or sensual. As stereotypical as it might sound, Chok’s promotional poster seems to adhere to the toxic and problematic notion that women are expected to add glamour or play seductive roles, so that the male audience finds it somewhat attractive to sit in front of the screen.

The few romantic scenes between Tahsan and Sporshia seem incredibly forced, unrealistic, and funny. You will witness a rain scene which by default is supposed to be romantic, but turned out to be odd in regards to their numb expression and gestures.

Sporshia, in her role, is utterly disappointing; her artificial attempt on presenting herself as a mysterious smuggler seems unfit. Her acting might be refreshing in some of her previous works, like Kathbirali, Abar Boshonto, Iti Tomari Dhaka, but this time it speaks otherwise. Although in Iti Tomari Dhaka, she portrayed a sort of similar role like the one in Chok, but in a less negative way. 

On the other hand, it’s nothing but awkward to see Tahsan, the actor of romance, delivering irrelevant poetic dialogues every time a serious situation was going on as if it were getting hard for him to break out from his lover-boy-zone. One moment he is talking in shuddho Bangla, and the next moment he magically shifts his language into the local Bangla. We haven’t had the opportunity to see Tahsan in thrillers earlier, and this could be the reason that his effort didn’t pay off as it is hoped. At some point, his “overacting” seems like an attempt to make the audience sympathise with his innocent character, which in my sense, did not help much. 

Other than that, however bland it may seem — if truth to be told, the background music is a breakthrough in this movie, especially “ছকের বাইরে, দুনিয়া নাইরে / সবাই ছকের পুতুল”. The background musician, Mahmudul Hasan Romance, may not be a known name to the Bangladeshi music industry but his overall music design, lyrics — which kind of hints about the theme, tone, and rhythm — with a touch of modern rap was quite impressive and enough to make the audience sit tight for a while.

The entire story is neither fast nor slow, yet visually boring and confusing. Moreover, there are some repetitions of the same scenes over and over which create a stiff atmosphere during the whole film. The vagueness of certain sub-plots, for example the girl who killed the researcher at the beginning, her whereabouts or goal — are yet to be disclosed. Every scene has a very minimal background story which lacks the material of realism throughout the web-film. Due to poor direction and lack of guidance, the secondary characters too, remain scattered. 

So no matter how appealing the trailer looks, reality will hit you differently. 

Now to sum it all up, can I have my 1 hour and 33 minutes back? 

 

Watch the trailer here:


Fiana is a human-ish writer by day and a Scorpio coven witch by nightfall. Reach out to her at @_ffikipedia_ to share any thoughts.

 

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