Chhalaang Movie Review
Leap of faithChhalaang is produced by Luv Ranjan and has Nushrratt Bharuccha playing the heroine. That’s usually a clue that what you’d be watching would be a sexist, misogynistic comedy, with Nushrratt cast as a golddigger. So it’s a pleasant surprise to see her cast in a positive role. And wonder of wonders, we see her striking a blow for women rights, gender equality and sports in the film. It’s all thanks to Hansal Mehta, who has provided a new treatment to the age-old hare versus tortoise tale. The film marks the fifth collaboration between Rajkummar Rao and Hansal Mehta. Unlike heavy-duty movies like Shahid and Aligarh, which were serious in nature and were based on real-life instances, this one is a breezy comedy. The director and the actor have shown that given a chance, they can excel in comedy as well. The screenplay, written by Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arrora, Zeishan Quadri, remains taut throughout. And the dialogue is crisp as well. The film is set in small-town Haryana and has the look and feel of the state. You feel you’ve been transported to the place which overflows with milk and honey. The language, the production design, the costumes, are all bang on. What the writers and the directors have also caught right is the jugadu nature of the people living in such small towns. The protagonist’s father is a respected lawyer so uses his influence to get a job for his slacker son. Everyone is okay with the arrangement, which is considered a way of life. The principal of the school, who is like a second mother to him, outsources wedding arrangements to him to make money on the side. Mahendra, better known as Montu (Rajkummar Rao) is a slacker of the first order who would rather eat samosas and slurp chai in the PT period, than coach children, which is his actual job. Then again, he became the PT teacher because he couldn’t succeed at anything else. So he has kind of given up on that as well. All he wants from life is to spend the day in the company of his guru, Hindi professor Shukla (Saurabh Shukla), drinking numerous cups of tea and munching on samosas and kachoris and the evenings again in Shukla and childhood buddy Dimpy’s (Jatin Sarna) company, drinking copious amounts of daaru. His life takes a turn for the better when a computer teacher, Neelima, ‘Neelu’ Mehra, joins their school. They begin their acquaintance on a wrong foot but later become drinking buddies. At this junction, a genuine sports teacher Inder Mohan Singh (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) gets appointed to the school as Montu’s senior. Singh knows Neelu from before and the duo seem to be hitting off. Hurt and confused, Montu claims that he’s as good a sports teacher as Singh and challenges the new teacher to a best of three competition. The winning coach will stay while the loser will resign. It so happens that the best sportsmen, including Montu’s own younger brother, get chosen into Singh’s team. He’s forced to choose from studious students and on Neelu’s suggestion, even girls. Since it’s a commercial Hindi film, it’s a foregone conclusion that the underdogs would ultimately win, despite the heavy odds. The sports action thankfully looks like something we might actually see in a genuine sports meet and doesn’t look contrived.The usual reliable suspects, Satish Kaushik, Saurabh Shukla and Baljinder Kaur (playing Montu’s mother) enliven the proceedings with their split-second comic timing. Ila Arun is on point as the benevolent school principal.Nushrratt Bharuccha shows that she can handle positive roles as well. She’s the very picture of a warm-blooded Haryanvi girl who ticks off Rao initially for his uncouth behaviour but later thaws out to him when she comes to know his real nature. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub has a terrific build-up but one feels his role was later cut short. We definitely would have loved to see more of him in the film. He comes out as a highly disciplined and motivated sports teacher who takes his job seriously. He’s arrogant at first but later, accepts defeat with grace. Rajkummar Rao is the soul of this comedy. His reaction scenes, whether it’s with Saurabh Shukla, Satish Kaushik, with Ayyub or with Bharuccha are spot-on indeed. He makes acting look easy indeed and never puts a foot wrong in his performance. The film gives out the message that sports are as much important for the growth of children as studies and that this should be inculcated right at the grassroots level. And thankfully, it’s all done in a playful, non-preachy manner. Kudos to Hansal Mehta for making another entertaining film. Let’s hope he continues to experiment with comedy as well.
Trailer : Chhalaang
Ronak Kotecha, November 13, 2020, 1:47 PM IST
STORY: When a young PT teacher is faced with stiff competition from a new coach, he must pull up his socks or risk losing his job, self-respect and the love of his life. REVIEW: Mahinder Singh aka Montu (Rajkummar Rao) is a slacker. From waking up long after the sun is up to loitering around with his much older bum-chum Masterji (Saurabh Shukla), Montu has little purpose in life. He is super complacent at his job of a PT teacher in his own school, which he landed only because his father (Satish Kaushik) recommended him to the principal (Ila Arun). When he is not wandering around with Masterji, he is playing moral police, doling out instant punishment to space-starved valentine couples. During one such self-assigned patrolling, he hauls up an older couple, thinking they are just fooling around. He even names and shames them by getting their picture published in a local newspaper. But as luck would have it, their daughter Neelima aka Neelu (Nushrratt Bharuccha) ends up at the same school as the new computer teacher. While Montu instantly starts crushing on her, Neelu is obviously quite miffed with him. And thus begins nafrat pyaar ki pehli seedi kinda situation and anyone who has watched even two Bollywood films would know how that will go. But the real twist in the tale comes with the entry of a new PT coach IM Singh (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub). Riding a Royal Enflied, Singh is literally the better version of Montu, who could whisk away the poor chap’s naukri and chokri in a flash. That’s when our man Montu realises that he needs to up his game or risk losing it all, including his credibility. He declares an all-out sporting war with Singh that also puts to test his own ability to teach. So from this point onwards, some conflict and sporting action kicks in. Ironically, the writers of ‘Chhalaang’ (Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arrora and Zeishan Quadri) never seem to take the leap of faith in making it an adrenaline pumping sporting spectacle. Neither does the movie explore the nuances of a sweet love story. It only flirts with the idea of making it a love triangle. That said, there are parts of the second half that do spice up the proceedings. Like every sports film, ‘Chhalaang’ too, has a prep montage song (by Daler Mahendi) with the underdogs slugging it out in the run up to the D-day. Then, some of the sequences employing practical situations to impart physical training lessons to the students are novel and effectively portrayed. However, since we know precious little about the young players, it’s hard to root for them. Instead of well fleshed out characters, the focus is on showing gender equality and women empowerment. This comes across as forced. Musically, there is no rousing number even when the story calls for one.The best track ‘Khair ni Karda’ comes just before the credits roll. Rajkummar Rao is good as always playing the unambitious PT teacher, but his act of a small-town boy next door is far too repetitive. Perhaps also because the stories from rural India are such a dominant part of his filmography. Also, his rigidly still hair looks kinda odd, even when he is getting down and dirty on the sports field. Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub in his athletic avatar and sporting a moustache, fits the bill as the competitive sports teacher. Ditto, for the beautiful Nushrratt Bharuccha, who seems to be performing better with each passing film. As a progressive new-age girl, Bharuccha’s character is the consistent voice of reason.But it’s the character actors, who breathe in most realism into the narrative and also add the much needed comic relief. Among them is a superb Saurabh Shukla complimented by Ila Arun, Satish Kaushik, and an extremely endearing Baljinder Kaur. She plays Montu’s mother with utmost sincerity. On the whole, director Hansal Mehta gets the setting quite right with a lot of detailing. But with more conviction in execution and writing, this one could’ve hit it out of the park.