Verdict: A well-executed biopic.

At one poignant moment in Main Aur Charles, Mira (Richa Chadda) effusively bursts out in an interrogation, saying, “Charles can escape (from prison), but no one can escape him.” At its outset, Main Aur Charles seems like those cliched crime sagas that start with a life of unrestrained lavishness and goes on to inevitably collapse in the future. However, Prawaal Raman manages to offer a film that isn’t anything close to a cliché.

What is most important with any biopic is how closely the director manages to recreate the primary character. With not a smidgen of doubt, Raman’s Charles Sobhraj is possibly the most accurate biographical portrayal in recent times. Most of the credit goes to Randeep Hooda, who injects a raw energy to Sobhraj, making him dangerous, thrilling and seductive, all at once.

Main Aur Charles doesn’t follow a linear narrative but rather deconstructs the entire flow of events that led to Sobhraj’s arrest and eventual escape. The film focuses most on Sobhraj’s infamous escape from prison, the typical shenanigan expected from a criminal of his calibre, when he drugged all inmates and staff of the prison and simply walked out the front door.

The movie does manage to intrigue and keeps you following every word of Hooda’s richly French accented English, but ultimately, what bogs it down is how the entire film seems like a hastily compiled collection of Sobhraj’s exploits, recreated.

Richa Chadda is sublime, yet again, as Charles’ infatuated lover, who turns a blind eye to his crimes and his philandering ways. Adil Hussain plays Amod Kant, the IAS officer who originally picked up the trail of Sobhraj and nailed him later, for counts of murder and other crimes. Hussain does turn in a good job, but occasionally falters, injecting either too much emotion or too less in a scene. Nandu Madhav (of Harishchandrachi Factory fame) also appears in the film, as Madhukar Zende, who arrested Sobhraj twice.

Main Aur Charles is indeed a great attempt that recreates the sensationalism of the ’70s and’ 80s, but loses its way just when you’re hoping hard it wouldn’t.

Why Should You Watch This Movie?

Catch Main Aur Charles for a well-executed peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most notorious criminals.