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Chess Like That…Check Is A Surprisingly Watchable Potboiler

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Chess Like That…Check Is A Surprisingly Watchable Potboiler 5

Check(Telugu)

Starring Nithiin, Rakul Preet Singh, Priya Prakash Varrier;

Written & Directed  by   Chandra Shekhar Yeleti

Rating: ** ½

This  could be Indian cinema’s The Queen’s Gambit. Ha ha,  chess kidding.

But seriously, I  can’t recall many movies in India based  on  the game  of  chess. Combining the theme  of terrorism with the game of  chess could be  seen as an audacious  game-plan  for  any filmmaker.

Writer-director  Chandra Shekhar Yeleti pulls  it off.  Just  about.  A major reason  why Check works is  we are never expected to take  the  outrageous plot seriously. What we are given is  a plot that  brims over with incredible twists and turns  all  woven together  in a  narration that is  high on adrenaline.

It starts  with Nitthiin(in  a  far cry from his utterly  juvenile rom-com  romp  in Rang De seen recently) being brought to the death row for  terror activities.Lawyer Rakul Preet Singh(looking as much like a lawyer  as Nithiin  looks  a terrorist)    convinced of  Aditya’s  guilt,  fights  his case until she begins to believe in his  innocence. Aditya’s  acumen  at chess helps him  get some reprieve from his death sentence.

Nithiin doesn’t hesitate  in  showing the  character as vulnerable and  frightened.

It is to the writer-director’s  credit that he   never lets  the   interest-level flag. Nor do the improbabilities swamp  and smother the  narrative. Rather , there is  a constant  effort to  keep the audience  engaged ,as Aditya , in all innocence, goes  from  one  zone  of  adventure  to another,  first  as  a convict  then as  a chess champ and finally as an innocent man  trying to play his  way  out of  sure death.

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Check is  quite  obviously a  vehicle to  allow  its leading  man  a chance  to showcase his  acting chops.With that  innocent  face and disarming smile Nithiin hits home runs one  after  another as he gets  taken for  ride  by the girl(Priya Prakask Varrier) who  looks nothing like  a closet terrorist.

 The  endeavour to prove  a terrorist innocent reminded me  of  The Mauritanian where  Tahar Rahim had played the  terror-accused  . Nithiin lacks  the emotional depth to carry  the role  to its dark interiors. At the end he emerges  battered buised  but somehow  triumphant. The storytelling is  constantly searching for tricks to titivate the drama. Most of them work.

Other than  Nithiin , it is  veteran  Srimannarayana  who as an imprisoned chess champ serves as  the  hero’s mentor guide  and liberator.  The  film has some interesting ideas  on  the  precincts  of freedom . Not  keen on exploring those , Check is content skimming the surface for  thrills  until we reach the grand climax  where  Nitthin’s Aditya plays  with , ahem,Grandmaster  Vishwanathan Anand.

 I   almost expected the  real  chess champ to show up. Instead  they  have  a lookalike who gives the  mood a tacky tilt. But that’s okay. None  of this is  serious. None of it  tries to be anything but entertainment.  Lack of  pretension and  a surfeit  of  plotting  stealth  make Check worth checking out.

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