There is one clever twist in Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga but to get to it you have to sit through a disjointed story that goes back and forth in time – first, the action moves to eight hours ago and then eight months ago. The frantically busy screenplay includes a love story which begins with a missing vegan meal on a flight, diamonds worth 120 crores which have been tacked on the cover of a cell phone, a corrupt home minister, goons who stalk and threaten, a heist and a hijack. So much happens but so little sticks. When Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga ended, my first thought was – this twist deserved a better film. There is even material for a sequel here.
Actors Sunny Kaushal and Yami Gautam Dhar also deserved a better film. Both are sincere performers with screen presence. The characters they play, Ankit and Neha, are more shaded than the routine Hindi movie hero and heroine. Both change dramatically through the course of the film and have delicious, dark edges to them. Writers Siraj Ahemad, Amar Kaushik and Raj Kumar Gupta give these characters intriguing possibilities but then, they don’t bother to flesh them out. Despite Sunny and Yami’s best efforts, neither Ankit nor Neha is convincing or plausible. Moreover, the plot repeatedly puts them in preposterous situations. At one point, in the midst of the hijack, Ankit is attempting to steal the diamond-studded cell phone. And much of the action is staged so listlessly that it’s impossible to suspend disbelief. For a crash course in how slick staging can seduce viewers and thrills can trump logic, watch Pathaan. Post-twist, Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga finds a little more propulsion but still, there is little that sparkles.
Which is surprising given that Amar, the director of Stree, Bala and Bhediya, is also the co-producer on the film. There are stray flashes in which you sense his fingerprint – keep an eye out for the bomb sequence – but his crackling sense of humour is mostly absent. Instead, director Ajay Singh tries to conjure up suspense. A considerable amount of action takes place on the plane but don’t go in expecting the nail-biting tension of Neerja. Here the hijackers and the rest of the passengers are mostly interchangeable and almost entirely personality free. You really don’t care who lives or dies. Meanwhile, Ketan Sodha’s background score does what it can to make up for the gaps in narration.
There is also Sharad Kelkar playing the officer investigating the hijack. He looks grim and determined but doesn’t get very far.
Neither does this film. You can watch Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga on Netflix.