Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma, Prateik Babbar, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Naveen Polishetty, Tushar Pandey
The Rajkumar Hirani School of filmmaking has found its true disciple in the director of Chhichhore, Nitesh Tiwari. This Shraddha Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, Varun Sharma starrer is an eclectic mix of ‘masala realism’, if there is such a genre.
Another addition to the college-coming-of-age-genre in Bollywood, Chhichhore tries to bring in new nuances and stylistic devices to keep the type interesting. The character introductions for instance, and some sequences of the film complete in themselves, are examples of the nuances that will be elaborated later.
The film opens in the middle of a funny-memory sequence of college that Sushant Singh is thinking about in his 40’s as the radio in the car goes, “Yadoon ka safar in 90’s ke gano ke sath…”. This back and forth shifting of screenplay to recount the stories of the seven losers from college days to Sushant and Shraddha’s hospitalizsed son, forms the crux of the plot of the film.
While the intention and the focus is on the ‘college time’ memory-narration and recollection, the excuse that fledges out the entire-why-to tell-the-story-in-the-first-place is clumsy. That motive and intention, despite being a sincere attempt to talk about fate of kids of overachiever parents, is not established well at all. That beginning of the film could definitely have been more worked upon. One is actually waiting for the present to shift to the past where the college-time story is set.
Shraddha Kapoor’s character introduction is great and we hope that for a change, she will feature in most part of the film, but as usual, the ratio of her performance and screen presence vis-à-vis other characters is below the mark; blame it on the absence of women in the engineering colleges of the country.
Even an older Maya is shown to play more of a nurturer-homely role. For instance, a woman’s descent quickly into the kitchen to serve her husband and his friends after a hectic day anywhere, be it the hospital she has been in waiting for her son to recover, is evergreen.
Shraddha plays more of a side-kick role; her performance as the older-mother did give her some space. But her character was not written and designed to play that kind of an important role in the film. She is literally and metaphorically a cheerleader, celebrating and supporting the victories and challenges of the Chhichhores.
On the other hand, Sushant Singh Rajput is fairly predictable and one-toned in his younger college-day performance; all confident and suave while his effort to play out the father correctly in some parts was commendable. It did get over-the-top in some dramatic sequences establishing/talking of father-son love, but for most parts, it hit the right note.
The only person who ideally has a character well-chalked out for himself and is given ample space to develop is Varun Sharma urf Sexa, popularly called as “Hawas ka papita” in the film. In some instances, one finds him playing more of a wife’s role to Anni (Sushant Sigh Rajput) than Maya (Shraddha). Sexa even has his own background character score, and a major part of comic sequences rests on the timing and expression of this pivotal character.
As for other characters, all variable and true to their spirit, play their parts well. A special mention goes to Naveen Polishetty and Tushar Pandey’s performances as Acid and Mummy respectively. They complement each other’s tonality and energy and form another kind of couple in the film. Acid is like a build-up pot of angst collected from years of expectation while Mummy is this cool-suave yet undiscovered talent for being an excessively spoilt mamma’s boy. Tahir Raj Bhasin plays the uber-cool Derek, a senior-loser of Hostel-4, that all call their ‘najayas baap’ while Saharsh Kumar Shukla plays Bevda, the forever-drunk-without-a-cause.
We have all known, seen or been people of this kind, and the strength of Chhichhore lies in its actors’ performances, maybe more of the supporting cast than the lead, and the writing in terms of dialogue.
The screenplay of the film follows a typical trajectory arch of a genre of this kind. The shifting of time and space, and so much coordination between dialogues between past-present to establish that chemistry between friends does not really change, no matter what time it is, becomes an overused, exploited trope.
In order to make the recounting of the college-story believable to Shraddha and Sushant’ son, the makers tried to spoon-feed the audience so much that despite being a predictable dramatic playout, the film got in the way of becoming more of boring. But, for some small doses of dramatic energy strewn all through the film, Chhichhore could have lost its charm.
Special sequence mentions include the “Control song”, some sport sequences that featured some of the losers and some scenes which makes Chhichhore-in-parts great. Sport sequences including the kabaddi scene, which was well-written out and performed with culinary voice-overs forming the cheering-sloganeering part, made it one of the most hilarious moments of the film.
The carom sequence, designed with an intention to revive and play-out as a dramatic musical, deserves a mention which further sets the mood of the whiplash-kind-background-score for the weightlifting part. In the film’s climax for instance, background score of the thriller-genre is used to accentuate the effect of a basketball game. That juxtaposition of music of a certain kind to display emotion and scene of another kind, is a classic move, and not often found in the works of Bollywood filmmakers. Other than that, music of the film was fairly typical and suitable to the genre it addressed and so was the background score in most parts.
Dialogues of Chhichhore are very well-written and are in fact the heart of the comedy, apart from the characters voicing it. The college-lingo served with a mix of rhyming poetry and clever one-liners kept the film interesting. But the makers took the term “loosers” way too seriously.
A comic-drama that delivers a social message with a dramatic climax, Chhichhore is this decade’s Munna Bhai, mixed with an ample dose of 3 idiots and Student of the Year to serve its purpose .