Continuing the growing trend of adaptations, Vishal Bhardwaj, an established Indian director, has come up with Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley.
It is the cinematic rendition of Agatha Christie’s novel, ‘The Sittaford Mystery.’ The show is streaming on SonyLiv.
Interestingly, the first episode of Charlie Chopra was released back in June as a ‘pilot episode,’ a practice as vague as it could get.
In total, the murder mystery has eight episodes, clocking a little under four hours.
Here is my review.
Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley Synopsis
Charulata Chopra aka Charlie Chopra rushes to Solang Valley after her fiancée is apprehended for murdering his uncle.
Charlie’s hidden talent? She has the instincts of a sharp detective.
Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, Charlie Chopra stars Wamiqa Gabbi (Charlie), Ratna Pathak Shah (Bharucha), Neena Gupta (Janki), Priyanshu Painyuli (Sitaram), Gulshan Grover (Brigadier Rawat), Lara Dutta (Wilayat), Chandan Roy Sanyal (Manas), Paoli Dam, and Naseeruddin Shah, among others.
Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley: Upsides
For a whodunnit murder mystery, the series starts on the right foot. The required elements are put into action and a base is created for the protagonist to utilize.
Since its ideation is based on an already published work, commenting on the concept would be futile, which brings us to the next aspect of whether Charlie Chopra is suspenseful or not.
The series manages to maintain an aura of mystery that keeps viewers constantly on the verge of discovering new facets.
The titular character’s delay in showcasing her detective skills adds a subtle touch of realism, portraying her as a budding professional rather than someone who instantly solves everything.
Charlie’s journey as a detective involves discovery, struggles, and facing the challenges posed by her circumstances.
Moreover, the background score enhances the thrilling buildups across the runtime with the aesthetic landscape adding to the intrigue.
An interesting narrative element in Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley is the protagonist’s direct engagement with the audience.
Periodically, she breaks the fourth wall, delivering witty commentary.
This unique approach brings a sense of casual camaraderie that is often lacking in Indian murder mysteries.
How are the Performances?
Wamiqa Gabbi continues to evolve as an actress par excellence, consistently raising the bar with each new project.
In her role as Charlie, she embodies a radiant talent package.
Her Punjabi accent is delightfully witty, her facial expressions do far more than the ordinary, and her spontaneity invigorates the viewer.
Having witnessed her portrayal in the series, it’s difficult to fathom anyone else doing justice to the character of Charlie besides Wamiqa Gabbi.
It is her best performance to date, even better than Jubilee.
Priyanshu Painyuli, known for his appearance in Mirzapur Season 2, has noticeably grown as an actor since then.
As Sitaram in Charlie Chopra, he skillfully portrays a local news reporter, delivering a gritty performance.
Unlike his past roles, Sitaram is not solely a source of humor, which elevates the depth of Priyanshu’s performance, deserving a round of applause.
Gulshan Grover makes a comeback to the screen as Brigadier Rawat. Years after making a name in the film industry, Grover reminds us of his evergreen artistic abilities.
His vocal intonations are still supreme while the actor uses his dominating screen presence to the fullest.
I know there are other big names in Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley, but read on to find out why I am not writing about their performance.
Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley: Downsides
It’s highly likely that you’ll be able to deduce the identity of the murderer after just the first episode, and even the faintest possibility of doing so speaks volumes about the series.
Vishal Bhardwaj fails to tightly weave the storyline, with some loose threads inadvertently revealing crucial plot details.
As I mentioned earlier, talking about the concept is futile but its execution can be commented upon.
The series lacks a compact setup to push forward the core principles. You may find it intriguing but you are most probably to miss out on stimulations.
It gives off the impression of a puzzle that will eventually piece together.
I can do with it coming from any other director, but not from Bhardwaj, who has a track record of delivering brilliance on multiple occasions.
Furthermore, Charlie Chopra’s finale is a letdown in terms of pace. All the crescendos go in vain when typical flashbacks start playing out.
The melodrama is not subtle, which could have helped shape the final hour of the series.
Another disappointment I carry with me is the underutilization of an able cast. Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Neena Gupta, Paoli Dam, all these names are epitomes of acting.
They are meant to have their own space. Why would you put a Paoli Dam at the helm only for 2-3 dialogues?
Their distinct identities are lost for they have a character that simply doesn’t have any real purpose.
Any story is as strong as its characters. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Charlie Chopra.
Stream or Skip?
Wamiqa Gabbi is the sole reason to stream Charlie Chopra, in my opinion.