Chhal is a movie about reality, its inadequacies and how people come to terms with it, vividly portrayed through the ways of the underworld. Karan Menon (Kay Kay) is a cop who sneaks into the ranks of the underworld incognito. Karan's brief is simple - gather evidence against topnotch guys in the underworld, and help the police do away with the menace.
To gain an entry, Karan wins the confidence of Girish (Prashant), a highflier of the Shastri gang, by rescuing his sister Padmini (Jaya Seal) from goons of Sultaan's gang. Once in, he fails to take a conventional course up the underworld's ladder as they put him in the escalator. Very soon, he becomes one of Shastri's closest confidants. In the meanwhile, the police nab a slew of guys involved in black marketing based on Karan's tip-offs. All goes on well until Karan's in love with Padmini.
Karan is emotionally wrecked when he was told to lay Girish to rest, first by Shastri and then by the police. This internal conflict between what he wants to do and what he has to do is well captured through a dialogue between Girish and Shaastri, which probably is one of the high points in an otherwise uniformly pitched movie. Just as you think that the movie will draw to a predictable close, there comes up the principal message of the movie, which you have to go and watch.
Chhal is characterized by very strong performances by both the lead actors - Kay Kay and Prashant Narayanan. Either they are of the same mould as of the roles they played, or they are really good. The movie is very influenced by a legion of other underworld-based movies, notably Company and Satya, that have standardized the "professionalization" of dark deeds.
AThough based on a small budget, the make-do paraphernalia isn't too much of an eyesore. But at least a few familiar characters would have made a world of difference, as you have to spend half the time associating people to their roles. Viju Shah makes a comeback with a very imposing background score that keeps all attention on the screen. This is the one area where it compares with the rest of the big-budget mainstream cinema.
The best part of the movie is its script (it may not be brand new, but at least there's a script), and that's what makes the film good despite a few other shortcomings. It would have been a big disappointment if the script was flicked from Hollywood and a bunch of filmi schoolwallahs did a rehearsal.