Story: Aditya (Nithiin) is a death row prisoner facing charges of terrorism. His only hope for living lies in the game of chess.
Review: National and Nandi Award winner, director Chandrasekhar Yeleti, returns to Tollywood after 2016 with the prison drama Check. While his attempt is to tell the tale of a prisoner who is desperate to prove his innocence, the strange ‘commercial’ treatment the film gets ensures it ends up being a mixed bag.
Aditya (Nithiin) is facing serious charges of terrorism and is sentenced to death. He appeals to the court to appoint him a lawyer who will help him prove his innocence. Manasa (Rakul Preet Singh) is forced to take up the case by her father (Posani Krishna Murali) in hope that her career will benefit from it. Even as Aditya waits in hope of finding a way to escape death sentence, he meets a chess player, fellow prisoner Sriman Narayana (Sai Chand) who excels at the game. While the student soon surpasses the master in the game, life keeps throwing curveballs. If he manages to live to tell the tale forms the story.
In the early 2000s when Chandrasekhar Yeleti made films like Aithe and Anukokunda Oka Roju, it was hard not to be in awe of the stories he told. This still remains the case for the most part when it comes to the core story of Check. Instead of the usual heroic protagonists who will defy gravity and nary shed a tear, he writes a protagonist who is in a vulnerable position for no fault of his own.
He experiences trauma due to solitary confinement, but manages to turn even that experience into a useful one. He also faces threat from fellow prisoners like Trigger (Rohit Pathak), who exists to tick off the box of that disgusting, ruthless, cliché criminal. And more importantly, he falls in love with Yatra (Priya Prakash Varrier) only to sing a duet (thankfully the only song in the film) and realise too late that he has been conned. An irony, seeing as how he’s a professional conman who’s supposed to be intelligent. None-the-less, Chandrasekhar dredges on, in hope that in midst of all the random, heavily choreographed fight scenes, the audience notices the details that have been put in, especially when it comes to Aditya’s backstory and the reason why he gets so good at chess.
But the film suffers a major drawback when it comes to its pacing and casting both. Nithiin falters in some key scenes to lend the required depth to his character, while he aces through other bits. Even though he plays a conman/prisoner, his body language comes across as every boy-next-door he has ever played before. The background score by Kalyani Malik tries too hard to set the mood, working only in parts. Rakul on the other hand gives a good performance, switching between timid and fierce, as and when required. Sai Chand leaves an impression, even if his character isn’t fleshed out well. Priya and Simran Choudhary also make the best of what they’re given. The climax is way too reminiscent of a certain famous American prison drama.
Check has the potential to be an engaging prison drama but falters in portions it’s supposed to excel in. It does have good bits and potential, but if you’re a fan of engaging prison dramas, it might leave you wanting. And despite it all, to his credit, Yeleti does make you want to stay invested till the end.