Chhalaang is another OTT original feature film release during the present Covid times and this time it’s streaming on Amazon Prime. Lately we have been hearing such names like Chak-de, Dangal, Panga, which point to a desi flavour in tales of inspiration in sports. They are comparable to similar offerings in Hollywood of fight and motivation. Generally such stories are drawn form real life.
As the name Chhalaang suggests this movie too deals with the same genre I.e. sports but the inspiration is from a hurt to the ego of one man as, the movie set out to be Montu’s story of goof and love but there is a jump literally midway. It changes to a story of the underdog.
Though everyone has their respective favourites in sports but one’s heart surely goes out for the underdog. The movie is set in a quintessential town of Haryana in North India. Indians love their heroes in the field of sports and are proud of our Tendulkars and Milkhas and P.T. Ushas and Sindhus and want our children to be as successful as them, but as Montu – Rajkumar Rao’s character says we as parents don’t want to support our children to be like these idols. It is naukri and chhokri for which the boys are prepared in their youth and if a girl studies even upto 12th in the mofussil towns of India it is breaking news as they are prepared for chula and chowka for their in-laws’ house. People who support their children or their married daughters-in-law really have a big heart.
Though things are a changing but ever so slowly. Realisation that sports can also give a career and has professionals is setting in due to the various leagues in football, kabaddi, badminton etc. apart from cricket which is a religion for our teeming billion. Some encouragement, some support and some financial aid is the need of the hour. Chhalaang is a story of courage and never say die spirit.
The film is about never giving up in face of extreme adversity. With a little hope, encouragement, out of the box thinking, perseverance and you will come out tops. That is the USP of this film but in the second half. The first half is dedicated to an insensitive, ambition-less PT instructor whose main job is to avoid work and loaf around, his passions are aroused only when he faces challenge in both job and love from a superior individual.
The story changes to a tale of inspiration from then on. The unique touch of Director Hansal Mehta who makes us forget that it started out to be a romantic flick and splendidly turns it around. He is also the person who has helmed such sensitive socials like Shahid, Aligarh, Omerta and his latest offering being Scam 1992 which is a thrilling web series streaming on Sony LIV OTT platform besides this one.
There is a definite shift in his subject, whereas in the past his films have dealt with social issues, the latest offerings from his stables have been more of mainstream commercial cinema but the touch is definitely still there.
The performances are as expectedly great from seasoned actors like Rajkumar Rao. It is very noticeable that Haryanvi suits this guy and he he has not let us down either, he has given us a superlative performance in the movie and has looked every bit the Hero for the movie and in his character.
The surprise packet is Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Mr. Singh the Johnny come lately who it trying to take over Montu’s job and love. Nusrat Bharucha as a whiskey sipping, out going and a girl with a head firmly in place has performed suitably for the role and she looks dainty too. The veterans Satish Kaushik, Ila Arun and Saurabh Shukla make their presence felt. The dialogues and the behavior of the small town characters have been captured with subtle finesse, in scenes like the fight in vegetable market and the sports ground or the one at Monty’s friend Dimpy’s eatery where they tease him for his cooking and profession that’s the kind of banter we hear in such places where small things matter too.
Chhalaang is the second movie in as many days after ‘Ludo’ where the heroine asks the hero ‘Daru pilayega?’. The equation seems to be changing. It is food for thought to all ye horsing males.
– Review by PAWAN GUPTA
Cast of Chhalaang:
Rajkummar Rao as Mahender ‘Montu’ Singh Hooda
Nushrat Bharucha as Neelima ‘Neelu’ Mehra
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Inder Mohan Singh the PT senior coach
Saurabh Shukla as Venkat Mehat ‘Shuklaji’, film’s Narrator
Ila Arun as Usha Gehlot, the principal
Satish Kaushik as Kamlesh Singh Hooda, Montu’s father
Jatin Sarna as Dimpy
Credits of Chhalaang:
Directed by Hansal Mehta
Produced by Ajay Devgan, Luv Ranjan, Ankur Garg, Bhushan Kumar
Written by Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arrora, Zeishan Quadri
Music by Hitesh Sonik
Cinematography Eeshit Narain
Edited by Akiv Ali and Chetan Solanki
Production companies: T-Series Films, Luv Films, Ajay Devgn FFilms
Distributed by Amazon Prime Video
Running time – 136 minutes