Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley: A Pulpy Thriller That Keeps You Hooked

Vishal Bhardwaj shows his mastery at creating a dramatic murder mystery, with each suspect coming with his/her secrets.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s fascination with literature is something that needs no introduction.

The acclaimed director has adapted three works of Shakespeare into movies — Maqbool (2003) from “Macbeth“, Omkara (2006) from “Othello“, and Haider (2014) from “Hamlet“.

All these three movies won a lot of critical acclaim along with box office success.

The director has also tried his hand at adapting Ruskin Bond stories— The Blue Umbrella (2005) and Saat Khoon Maaf (2011).

Now, he is back with Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley based on The Sittaford Mystery, one of the crime novels written by Agatha Christie.

The mystery thriller is set in Solang Valley and Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

Synopsis

Right from the first scene, Vishal Bhardwaj shows his mastery at creating a dramatic murder mystery, with each suspect coming with his secrets. Wamiqa Gabbi is the determined Punjabi detective Charlie Chopra.

Brigadier Meherbaan Rawat (Gulshan Grover) is an esteemed member of the Rockford Estate community. Towards the end of the first episode, his shocking death is revealed. It sends huge shockwaves through the community.

Charlie Chopra takes up this case as her fiancé Jimmy (Vivaan Shah) becomes the major suspect. As Charlie Chopra digs deeper and deeper into the case, many secrets tumble out.

The rest of the story is about who the actual culprit is and whether there is something more to the mysterious death of Meherbaan Rawat.

Technical brilliance

For any suspense thriller, it is necessary that the viewers are intrigued throughout. Vishal and his two co-writers successfully manage to keep them hooked till the end.

The setting of the Solang Valley also ends up being a major character in itself, thanks to the cinematographer Tassaduq Hussain. He does a brilliant job in not just showcasing the picturesque setting but is also equally good at imbuing it with an air of enigma.

Vishal Bhardwaj also dwells on social commentary through the supporting cast. He talks about refugees, unrequited love, oppression, and killed aspirations. This gives the story a certain emotional heft.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s music blends perfectly into the atmospherics. Special mention must be made of the two Ghazals sung by Rekha Bhardwaj.

Performances

The ensemble cast is also mostly on point with a particular mention to Wamiqa Gabbi. After this year’s Jubilee (2023), the actress once again shows her versatility with her portrayal of Charlie Chopra.

A scene which particularly stands out is when she breaks down during an imaginary phone call to a character. There are also scenes where Wamiqa breaks the fourth wall with aplomb.

Priyanshu Painyuli also makes a huge impression in his role as a small-time news reporter. Their partnership is quite reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. Priyanshu brings in some much-needed comic relief.

Among the suspects, Lara Dutta and Ratna Pathak Shah have better etched-out roles.

Lara Dutta plays Wilayat Hussain, a Ghazal singer from Lucknow. As the series progresses, it is revealed that she was once Colonel Rawat’s love interest.

Now, Wilayat and her daughter Waseema are leading a life of indignity. Wassema suffers from schizophrenia. Lara Dutta effortlessly portrays both the protective mother and the Ghazal singer.

Ratna Pathak Shah’s character, on the other hand, is someone who fakes disability in order to claim insurance money. The veteran actress pulls off the grey shades with the finesse that you expect from her.

Final take

To sum it up, Vishal Bhardwaj delivers another winner. Here’s hoping that the director continues to take inspiration from literature.

(Views expressed here are personal.)

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