When the avowed ambition of a film swells well out of the reach of the talent at its disposal, the end result can be infinitely more disastrous than anybody behind the exercise can possibly fathom. Chitkabrey ? Shades of Grey is a classic case of fair intentions marred beyond recognition by warped execution.
It exudes a degree of earnestness that would have been rather touching had it not been so excruciatingly painful. The film may lay claims to being bold and brazen, but what it ends up being is utterly banal, when it is not shockingly bizarre.
Its shades are too hazy to register and its greys are simply not pronounced enough to blur the line that separates black from white. If there is anything to be taken away from Chitkabrey, it is the knowledge (for whatever it?s worth) that the preachy is only a short hop, skip and jump away from the pulpy.
In Chitkabrey, men and women come and go but they aren?t certainly talking of Michelangelo. The film has half-baked characters spouting wondrously corny lines like ?a lifelong bonding is better than a temporary sexual relationship? with absolutely straight faces.
That is Chitkabrey for you: a film that takes itself too seriously for its own good ? and for the sanity of the audience.
Director and co-writer Suneet Arora addresses an issue that is burning enough ? the emotional and social ramifications of the violent forms that ragging often assumes on our college campuses ? but the treatment of the well-meaning theme veers so hopelessly off track that no amount of back-pedalling and empty moralising can save it from turning into a mangled heap.
After the stage has been set through a protracted prelude that in a way serves as a none-too-veiled precursor to all the inanity that is about to be foisted upon the unsuspecting viewer, Chitkabrey lives up to its promise: it runs amok and never looks back.
An emotionally scarred victim of an act of violence that a bunch of boys committed a decade and a half back in an engineering college returns not just to haunt the whole lot of them but also to transform these moral cretins into better "social creatures".
These men and their spouses congregate at a mystery party in a desolate spot and proceed to have a good time until they are taken hostage by a disembodied voice that bellows out orders from strategically placed squawk-boxes. It turns out that the voice has a face too. Scary!
Chitkabrey proffers loads of sex and sleaze by way of recompense. In fact, there is more skin on show in this film than one is accustomed to being exposed to in mainstream Hindi cinema. These gratuitous semi-porn passages are made all the more risible by the consistently poor acting all around.
The man who walks away with the honours on this count is Ravi Kissen. The Bhojpuri superstar plays the victim who turns the tables on his one-time tormentors.
He hollers, makes faces, resorts to grotesque antics and generally makes a merry fool of himself as he goes about dispensing advice and admonishments in the same breath.
Under Kissen's glorious shadow, the other members of the cast compete with each other to test the audience's patience.
Chitkabrey, which redefines cock-and-bull with gay abandon, is quite a test. Go for it only if you are a sucker for tedium.