Anyone exploring the realm of World Cinema knows how important a role Guru Dutt plays in shaping Indian cinema. For some, he is the most prolific Indian storyteller of all time yet his film “Kaagaz ka Phool” was severely denounced by the critics. It is speculated that this resulted in his suspicious death. Balki’s most outstanding achievement in “Chup” was crafting an average piece of fiction out of a great non-fictional controversy. We will talk about the non-fiction part later. Let’s talk about fiction first.
‘Chup’: What Happens In The Film?
The film is set in Mumbai. There’s been a series of vicious killings so Inspector Arvind Mathur (Sunny Deol) takes charge of the case. He finds out that the first victim was a film critic by profession. He also learns that the killer leaves a star on the forehead of the victim. Soon, after the third kill, he discovers a couple of things. Firstly, the killer is only targeting film critics. Secondly, the killer leaves the exact number of stars the critic gave to the last film they had reviewed. And lastly, the killer picks certain phrases from the review and then kills the victims accordingly. For example, one critic wrote that the second part of the movie was not on the right track. So, his body was found separated on a railway track. So, as a result, Arvind instructed all critics to give high marks to every film, regardless of ethical obligations. Some argued, but Arvind managed to make them understand how sensitive the situation was. Everyone followed his strategy and rated the recent release with 4.5 stars or even 5 stars. Except for one critic from “The Bombay Post.” He genuinely hated the film and gave it a rating of 1.5 stars. Arvind thought he would be the killer’s next target, but instead, the killer killed a man who gave a 4.5-star rating. Arvind is all confused now. What would he do? He calls Dr. Zenobia Shroff (Pooja Bhatt), an old friend, to help him in the case.
In between, we are introduced to two different characters. Danny (Dulquer Salmaan) and Nila Menon (Shreya Dhanwanthary). Danny owns a flower store and suffers from dissociative identity disorder, where he constantly communicates with his other half. He even buys 2 “Vada Paos” and makes 2 cups of tea. He finds the same quality in Nila and grows a liking for her. But soon, he learns that Nila was not talking to her other half but to a friend through her AirPods. Although Danny is hurt, his other half tells him to be friends with Nila as he finds no harm in it. They grow to like each other, and soon we discover that Danny is the serial killer the police are looking for. Nila is a young journalist for ‘The Bombay Post’ and aspires to be a film critic in the future.
On the other hand, the critics stop reviewing any films out of fear. Arvind, along with Dr. Zenobia storms through the evidence, and Zenobia finds out the motive of the killer. She realizes the killer must be a filmmaker whose film was brought down by some critic. So, he is now hunting to seek revenge. Anyway, Arvind and Zenobia manage to find a way to trace the killer. They get hold of a senior critic and ask him to curate a list of filmmakers in the last 10 years whose films had only received bad reviews. Arvind tells him they don’t have much time, so he can hire an assistant to speed up the process. The critic then asks Nila to help him. However, if there is no review, there is no killing. However, the police require one more move from the killer to catch. So, they urge Nila to write a review. Nila likes the film, but Arvind strictly asks her to rate it 1 star. Nila didn’t want to rate it 1 star; still, she had to follow the orders.
Soon, Danny learns about her rating and goes to kill her. There is heavy security in Nila’s house. Still, Danny manages to capture Nila, and Arvind follows the trail. Arvind reaches the location and shoots Danny following which he is taken to the hospital. At Danny’s house, a movie reel was found. It was named “Chup” and was directed by Sebastian Gomes (Danny). Danny was not his original name; it was his pet dog, who was killed by his father. The film ends with a shot of Sebastian spending his days in prison, and his posture imitates that of Guru Dutt in ‘Pyaasa’.
‘Chup’ Ending Explained: Who Was Sebastian Gomes? Why Was He Obsessed With Guru Dutt?
In order to understand a serial killer, it is always important to know their upbringing. Most of the time, they are the victims of childhood trauma. Trauma can be of several types. It can stem from something as simple as our shadow or darkness. However, with right support and guidance, trauma can be treated. Kids need attention; they must not witness violence in front of their eyes. We witness many different things every day, and our understanding of good and evil is distinctively based on our learning process which begins in the early days of our youth. Sebastian Gomes, from an early age, saw his father getting drunk and abusing his mother. His father would even torture him, tying up his hands and throwing him in the basement. The abuse repeated itself until one day he looked through the basement window and noticed his neighbor’s TV. A film was being played (probably ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’) starring Guru Dutt. He felt so passionate watching him that even when his father opened the door, he voluntarily locked himself in the basement.
His obsession with Guru Dutt was why he wanted to become a filmmaker. As Sebastian grew up to be a film student, he made his debut as a director with his film named “Chup.” Until now, Sebastian has been suffering from dissociative identity disorder since childhood and has found himself overjoyed through filmmaking. “Chup” received very bad reviews. What happened then? He became a patient of mental disorder, and his insecure dark persona took over his mind and started to control him. Now, the boy who admired Guru Dutt as a filmmaker and wanted to be like him in the future linked his death to the reactions his movie had received. It is said that Guru Dutt died due to an accidental overdose. But many believe the failure of his most beloved work, ‘Kaagaz Ka Phool,’ made him take his own life, maybe not a suicide, but a forced death, nonetheless. However, the film ‘Kaagaz Ka Phool,’ after Guru Dutt’s death, received huge acclamation worldwide, but the critics of that time used viciously harsh words against it. Most critics believe”Kaagaz Ka Phool” to be ahead of its time.
Now, Sebastian considered his movie to be at par with Guru Dutt. Even if he believed that “Chup” was not an extraordinary achievement, his insecure half might not feel the same. The half that dominates him while killing the victims doesn’t consider the critics should have been so harsh with “Chup”. His main motivation is that the critics should be honest. They should not sell themselves by giving 5 stars to a lousy movie or giving 1 star to a film that the majority enjoyed. However, his motivation for killing Nila was not the number of stars but the fact that she was unaware of the film being a rip-off of another (Mongolian) film. So, he could not tolerate the ignorance of a critic. He even said he would’ve appreciated the 1-star rating if she was aware of the fact, but he was angry that she had given the 1-star because someone (Arvind) had asked her to. So, according to Sebastian, Nila was not honest with her rating.
Final Words: The Motive Of The Killer Is Vastly Flawed
Bollywood is insecure about its critical evaluation. This film dwells in confusion. What was the message? Well, that was never delivered. Once, the killer says the critic must be honest, yet in his earlier killings, he says, why would the critic tell the audience whether they should watch the film or not? The killer is going through a disorder, so we can’t argue much about the logic behind what he does. But, if we follow the trail of serial killing, a serial killer rarely shifts from one method to another. In every killing, he first kills the victim and then cuts different body parts (according to the description of their film review) to concentrate on that. But, instead of killing the critic on the rail track, he stood by and watched him get run over by the train. Things like these lose the impact of the average good thriller entirely. Even the climax is pretty overdone with the ‘Pyaasa’ pose and low-key lighting. The writing of the first half is vastly out-of-the-box, while the second half and the climax suffer from unnecessary jump cuts and a really dumb ending. The movie displays a great deal of thriller, yet somehow it ends in disappointment. This movie can only be considered an excellent attempt to encounter fiction with non-fiction.