The first thing that strikes you about Charas is the tagline - 'A Joint Effort'. How could a solo venture be called a joint effort? Then it dawned on me. The smart alecs were punning on the word joint. Now seriously, who would have thought of something that intelligent?
Charas begins with an important note - 'This is a fictional work, based on actual facts'. God, these guys are killing us with their brilliance, aren't they? But don't start getting used to it.
Charas starts out like a mafia movie you've seen a dozen times, but ends like a buddy cop movie you've seen a dozen times. This is the part where we tell you about the story. Hmmm, now how do we fill this space?
Now you know that the previous question is a rhetoric one that writers keep hurling your way time and again, and shouldn't actually be answered, right? There, another one! Damn, that intelligence stuff is contagious!
Moving along with Charas. Turns out that the lush green valleys of Kulu and Manali are a major tourist attraction. And a hippie haven. And the hotbed for drug dealings. And the place where scores of firang students disappear every year.
One such student is Sam Higgins, who had set out to study Botany. After 18 months of his disappearance, his aged parents in England start a hunt for him. A Scotland Yard cop is assigned this task. The cop in question is an Indian living in England, Dev Anand (Jimmy-I'll-grin-stupidly-even-at-a-funeral-Shergill).
Now this Briton sets out for New Delhi, where he comes upon Ashraf (Uday Chopra), who becomes his tour guide. After two haplessly painful and inexplicable song and dance routines, Dev starts his investigation.
This is where the moviemakers introduce the surprise twist in the tale, which is especially surprising because it comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever seen a movie before. Confused??! Welcome aboard!
Ashraf is actually an undercover Indain cop who is keeping a tab on Dev. And Dev's lady love, Piya (Namrata Shirodkar), is an undercover reporter for Outlook magazine. She rips Dev off his findings, to publish her masterpiece. After watching this flick, no one will ever again accuse Ms. Shirodkar of being just a pretty little thing. Nor will anyone ever again accuse her of being an actress.
Dev's mission now involves uncovering a narcotic racket that runs deeper than he could imagine. It is of gigantic proportions and spreads across several European countries.
These drug dealings are headed by Police Man (Irrfan Khan). When we say headed, we mean it literally, because Khan has his bleached a shocking gold. Now Khan was once a police man (hence the smart handle) who left the service disgruntled with the system. And he took to the next most logical step in his career. Drug plantations.
The case takes on serious dimensions as a minister in England, Afghani terrorists and a Union Transport Minister in Delhi who have become involved do not want Dev to complete his mission, and implicate him as a Pakistani spy.
But Dev moves on unflinchingly, and delivers justice with Ashraf's help. Charas also stars Hrishitaa Bhatt as Uday Chopra's love interest. The music is quite electric and foot tapping. The direction is also commendable. What drags the movie all the way down is a hackneyed hotched-potched script and the asinie female leads.
If you love confusion, then you will love Charas. And now thanks to piracy, you will be able to replay the movie over and over again, try to make sense out of it, kick your player in frustration and kick yourself, though not necessarily in that order. An exercise in extreme futility. Just like Charas.