Review: 'Berlin' shines most due to the chemistry that Aparshakti & Ishwak share in one interrogation room
The film is taken several notches higher than it is, mainly due to Ishwak Singh and hence, it is still watchable if not entirely engaging.
Published: Sunday,Nov 05, 2023 13:00 PM GMT-07:00
The premise of Berlin was so intriguing from the outset. Set in 1993, a deaf-and-mute man is arrested by the Bureau on allegations of being a spy but owing to not being able to have smooth communication, an ordinary teacher, who is also a sign language expert is hired to do the questioning. Of course, nothing is what it seems to be as several mysteries are unraveled in the course of time.
But does Berlin starring Aparshakti Khurrana, Ishwak Singh, Rahul Bose and Anupriya Goenka in lead roles deliver what it promised? Having had the chance to see the film at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023, here's what I thought about it-
A Lot of Promise, Impactful Performances & On-screen Chemistry
The premise indeed had a lot of promise. Majority of the scenes are confined into an interrogation room with Khurrana and Singh playing off each other while Bose being the handler of the situation outside. And when that is the case, the film shines. Khurrana is still stiff with his performance and almost looks to be in the Madan Kumar (Jubilee) zone a bit but still puts up a decent performance. Goenka, unfortunately doesn't have much to do even though she is the tying end of an important development. Bose chooses to be loud and overstated but with his general grasp but he still brings a lot to the table.
However, it is Ishwak Singh, who delivers a brilliant performance as a deaf-mute man. Singh, who continues to grow from strength to strength with every project once again proves how he can excel with anything given to him - something as challenging as playing a deaf-mute man. He is cognizant of the fact that he will not be caricaturish and instead underplays while being careful about the emotions on his face. Undoubtedly, he is the best part about Berlin. Another portion where Berlin shines the most is with the chemistry between the actors in frame. Khurrana and Singh are at it playing off each other while forming a bond as well. Even Khurrana's scenes with Bose benefit immensely due to the chemistry the actors have.
Runtime, Not Explored Enough & Underwhelming
Unfortunately, Berlin never fulfils its potential to the maximum. The build-up into this mystery saga begins well as it has you wondering where will this be headed but as soon as a few filler scenes drop in, you're taken out of the tension. And soon, the mystery isn't mysterious anymore and the reveal doesn't shock you anymore. It also doesn't help that there is a lot of back-and-forth happening in the scenes and that just adds to the ideally unfrightening two hour runtime.
But the way it works out, it does feel like a drag and could have easily ended in about 90-odd minutes. But the most underwhelming part of the film is just how unexplored several territories remain. The bond between Khurrana and Singh, while does shine due to the actors but remains undercooked apart from the nuggets of information when they have a personal connection talking about the vulnerabilities and not the subject matter. Bose is handed over a token character that we have now seen him play in a few films already and as mentioned above already, Goenka doesn't get much to do.
Berlin could have been a cohesive, taut and entertaining mystery thriller but instead only works in bits and parts. The film is taken several notches higher than it is, mainly due to Ishwak Singh and hence, it is still watchable if not entirely engaging.
Rating - *** (3/5)