Director: Suneet Arora
Cast: Ravi Kissen, Rahul Singh, Rajesh Shringapure, Svetlana Manolyo, Akshara Gowda, Pitobash
Storyline: Seven friends, each representing one of the cardinal sins, plus one more, meet at a reunion to find themselves trapped by an avenging junior from college
Bottomline: If you watch only one film a year, this is it. It will convince you why you were right staying away from films.
Promoted as the boldest Indian film made, Suneet Arora’s Chitkabrey – Shades of Grey, is indeed the most brave film to have hit the screens in recent times if it really thought that people will queue up to see a mostly naked Ravi Kissen.
There’s plenty of assorted nudity and love-making scenes thrown to spice up the amateur staging of what seems like a play with its Big Boss-like set-up. Like Big Boss, instructions are given by a mysterious stranger whose voice booms through the speakers to the occupants of the house.
So if you watch Big Boss as a guilty pleasure, you might just dig this. You will enjoy it for the same reasons as you watch the reality show. Laughing at it than with it most of the time. How can you keep a straight face and not laugh when a bad actor sobs to his wife that: “I let my boss enjoy with me” soon after a shot of two men sharing a shower.
A victim of ragging Rakesh Chaubey (Ravi Kissen) keeps the group captive at gunpoint and asks them to spill the beans on their dirty past.
Now, though Ravi Kissen’s character speaks chaste Hindi and quotes from his Hindu upbringing, he reproduces seven Biblical cardinal sins (and not the six arishadvargas from the Indian ethos) which is our first hint that the film has probably borrowed its core from another source and was desperately trying to find its footing in the Indian milieu.
A quick search online suggests a similar play by award-winning American playwright Kash Goins who wrote ‘VII Deadly Sins’ also about a reunion of eight classmates after a decade (changed to 15 years in this film though).
The caricatures that the makers of Chitkabrey give us:
Lust: Jaggi, the Sikh businessman with a big heart, is guilty of doing the naughty with a hottie and cheating on his wife. He was also the mastermind behind ripping off Ravi Kissen’s underpants during the ragging sequence.
Envy: The still-single Shankar betrays his successful rich friend Jaggi and also does the naughty with Jaggi’s wife on the sly.
Wrath: Angry young Deepak beat his 11-year-old because the kid got only 92 on 100 and also used to hit his wife because the salt in the daal wasn’t right.
Greed: Gujarati Jayan married for dowry and then ran off to Canada to start a fresh life with a brand new wife.
Pride: Rekha, the only girl in the gang, is so vain that she “prefers rape to a favour”. She “sells girls” for a living, while her husband is away picking up the soap for his boss. She used to be so vain that she once asked Ravi Kissen in college what he thought of her balls! Eyeballs, she clarifies after he uncomfortably says: Nice.
Gluttony: Aman Ali Siddiqui made a girl suck his pen in public back in college and is punished when his wife Fauzia Javed Khan has to eat kulfi in front of all his friends.
Sloth: Bengali babu Buddhadeb had taken to the bong (Yes, drugs in college!) and now dreams of being a bum in Bahamas because after ten years of marriage, he only thinks of his Biwi as his Behen!
Manipulation: New sin invented because the makers realised that they have eight characters but only seven sins, like in the American play. So smart South Indian Balaji who used to sell drugs in college goes chasing the Great American Dream and scores a Russian girl for a wife! Immoral foreign girl who likes to lure unsuspecting masseurs into a three-way with her husband in the middle of a massage.
Smell stereotypes? Just one of those things that makes this film so bad that it’s good. Enjoy with your friends. Not the way the word is used in this movie though.
(A censored version of this review originally appeared here.)