Opening in the fictional city of Al-Barkat, Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga is a caper and hijack film in one. Directed by Ajay Singh, the film begins with a Bollywood-like ‘man wooes (read: stalks) woman’ story and swiftly becomes a thriller with little respite.
A flight-attendant Neha Grover (Yami Gautam) falls for Ankit (Sunny Kaushal) due to a ‘vegan meal’ mystery on a flight. As the story progresses, Neha finds out that Ankit is a failed diamond insurer and owes an anonymous antagonist Rs 20 crore.
The duo then hatches a plan, albeit reluctantly, to steal some diamonds mid-flight but their plans are foiled because of a hijack.
Yami Gautam does her best to give her character some emotional heft and her efforts yield the best results in the second half when she’s allowed to be more than a stereotypical Bollywood love interest. At the end of the day, her character is one of the film's most captivating roles.
Gautam had perfected the patient brooding rage of a woman on a mission in A Thursday and Lost, and regrettably, those were her superior offerings.
Sunny Kaushal’s act is less convincing but he is charming to a fault, which is exactly what his character demands. However, both the leads are relegated to their tasks in the plot and don’t get any sketched out stories of their own.
Sharad Kelkar as the increasingly frustrated but level-headed RAW officer adds to the gripping nature of the story.
It’s natural for a film like Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga to inspire comparisons to films like Neerja and You Can’t See Me, both brilliant films in their genres. The film isn’t as good as either but it’s not a completely lost cause. There are enough red herrings to keep the audience hooked and could hoodwink a viewer who doesn’t frequently watch thrillers or caper films.
The film’s biggest flaws are in its writing, credited to Shiraz Ahmed, Amar Kaushik and Raj Kumar Gupta. The dialogues are often clunky and come off as unintentionally humorous.
For instance, the dialogue, ‘The hijack is over’ is reminiscent of ‘The king is dead, long live the king!’ but isn’t nearly as humorous or sharp.
Even the performances are bogged down by dialogues that don’t work for the genre or for the high stakes the film is expecting the audience to buy into. Another issue would be the film's lighting which is so low in some scenes that most of the film seems like a mystery but not in the right way.
The hijackers, though positioned to be menacing and scary, aren’t. Some of the twists are predictable and would’ve affected the viewing experience more if not for Singh’s smart direction and Charu Thakkar’s mostly crisp editing.
Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga isn’t a serious film and if you do walk into it expecting to be moved or shocked, you’ll walk out disappointed. But the good thing is that it doesn’t ask you to place those expectations on it since its premise, from the very get-go is rather implausible.
With stronger dialogues and a better planned screenplay, this film could’ve been a good humorous watch.
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