‘Chaari 111’ movie review: A few humorous lines and nothing more

‘Chaari 111’, director Keerthi Kumar’s Telugu espionage comedy drama headlined by Vennela Kishore, never rises beyond some silly fun

March 01, 2024 05:38 pm | Updated 05:39 pm IST

Vennela Kishore and Samyuktha Viswanathan in ‘Chaari 111’

Vennela Kishore and Samyuktha Viswanathan in ‘Chaari 111’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘The country needs me,’ says Agent Chaari or Chaari 111 (an effortlessly hilarious Vennela Kishore) in all earnestness. Only, those listening to it react with frustrated disbelief or laughter. The one in disbelief at his confidence is his boss, Prasad Rao (Murali Sharma), a former Army officer who now heads a secret agency named Rudranetra. The ones laughing are the audience who are watching a comedian tasked with a serious mission. Director T G Keerthi Kumar’s Telugu film imagines the possibilities of a comedian as a spy, helping to safeguard the nation. The results are mixed, with some portions of farcical fun and others that are uninteresting and underwhelming.

The naming of the secret service agency is a nod to Chiranjeevi’s film Rudranetra; incidentally, it all begins in a rundown movie theatre that functions as a meeting place. Chaari 111 is also a nod to international comedy action dramas such as Johnny English and the Pink Panther series. Along with Satya (the tech lead of the agency) and Thagubothu Ramesh (who is sober throughout and plays Kishore’s assistant), Kishore puts his stylish foot forward and generates plenty of silly laughs. The three are steadfastly serious in what they do, much to the amusement of those around them. 

Chaari 111 (Telugu)
Director: TG Keerthi Kumar
Cast: Vennela Kishore, Samyuktha Viswanathan, Murali Sharma
Storyline:  After a bomb blast, a secret agency has to track and nab the culprit. Agent Chaari, whose method is to confuse, frustrate and destroy, is tasked with the mission.

At the heart of it, Chaari 111 has a no-nonsense premise. Rudranetra is an underground agency headquartered in Hyderabad; it does not need to play by rules and will do all it takes to counter terrorism. All hell breaks loose when a blast occurs and the agency is tasked with getting to the bottom of it soon. When the chief minister (Rahul Ravindran in an extended cameo) asks Prasad Rao to assign an agent. The only one who is free is Chaari whose modus operandi is to ‘confuse, distract and destruct’. Chaari has the knack for getting on Prasad Rao’s nerves but there is no alternative.

A little later in the narrative, when Agent Esha (Samyuktha Viswanathan) is introduced, we wonder where Rao suddenly finds a capable agent who not only stays focused on her work but also gets Chaari out of trouble with some deft stunt moves. Never mind.

Chaari 111 leverages certain situations time and again for gags. For instance, Chaari does not understand the difference between someone ‘going on leave’ and ‘taking leave’. Rudranetra’s outdated technology in the age of artificial intelligence gives some room for Satya to create fun sequences. However, the agency has a few small-time gadgets that Chaari has at his disposal. While the humour works in some of these segments, it fizzles out soon. When smaller gadgets and guns aren’t enough, a monster gun like the one used in Lokesh Kanagaraj’s films is brought in. This has been so overused in mainstream Indian cinema in the last couple of years that it is fatigue-inducing. 

The backstory about terrorism in Chaari 111 is a serious one about a genius gone rogue. The use of animation to tell the flashback is effective. The film also tries to give the story added depth by naming the antagonist Raavan; neither his Bane-like mask nor his characterisation is interesting enough. However, the surprise factor comes in the form of another character. 

The film tries to strike a balance between humour and a serious tone that does not make a mockery of terrorism and the threat it poses. While Kishore, Satya and Thagubothu Ramesh use the material given to them and try to ensure plenty of laughs, Murali Sharma ensures that the seriousness is not diluted. Samyuktha and Priya Malik’s characters don’t make an impact. 

Chaari 111 works only when looked at as a low-budget espionage thriller banking on silly humour. Simon K King’s background score adds zing to some sequences. If only the film had been written smartly, it would have been interesting to look forward to its possibilities in the sequel.

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