Chhichhore: Falls short, but with a heart

In Nitesh Tiwari’s last outing as a director, Dangal, Aamir Khan had said, “Chora lave ya chori, gold toh gold hove hai,” and here I was, sitting in my seat while the end credits of Chhichhore rolled up, thinking that when a man could write that dialogue, why could he not give his female lead (in Chhichhore) a character arc, or ever screen time. What I also had in my head, while walking out of the film, was the fact that I didn’t really need to watch this coming together of 3 Idiots and Student Of The Year, with a downgrade from the former and an uplift from the latter.

The message of the film is that you are a loser only when you allow yourself to be one, when you give up on yourself. Along with his team of writers (Piyush Gupta and Nikhil Mehrotra), Nitesh Tiwari fleshes out a brilliant story, but he stumbles while telling it. The timeline moves between the characters being in their mid-forties and their college days, narrating their ‘loser’ life chronicles to a young boy who thinks he’s a loser because he didn’t pass a certain entrance exam. The premise is great, the fluctuation between the two time periods is smooth, the film has a great message, brilliant performances, but it still doesn’t work for me. There are too many characters, which I don’t mind, but I got to know none.

Early on, we meet a group of friends who study in an engineering college in old times Bombay. These are Any (Sushant Singh Rajput), Sexa (Varun Sharma), Acid (Naveen Polishetty), Mummy (Tushar Pandey), Bevda (Saharsh Kumar Shukla) and Derek (Tahir Raj Bhasin). There’s also Maya (Shraddha Kapoor) but she does nothing, except being just another flowerpot character. These friends show friendship beautifully. The highs, the lows, the closeness, the love, there’s everything. But, we don’t get to know them. I know Ani is good at sports, is a topper, but where does he come from, where is he going? Why is Derek so stuck up, why does Bevda drink so much? We don’t get to know them at all. Even when they’re older, we don’t get to see what they’re doing in life. All of them seem to have elaborate lives with receding hairlines, but that’s not a character trait. And does everyone have to have receding hairlines? Maya gets a character boost when she’s older, but is still ignored. And my biggest question is why are Ani and Maya divorced? What happened to them? I demand answers.

In the second half, the film becomes a very well done version of Student Of The Year, where the different hostels are competing in a range of sports. Our boys belong to Hostel 4 and have never won the trophy. But because there are our heroes, there is hope. The second half is better than the first, but by the time we are here, you’ve lost me already.

So what keeps you going through this film are two things. One, that it has it’s heart in the right place, and two the performances. Even in a very underwritten character, Shraddha Kapoor delivers. You don’t see her growth as an actor because she doesn’t have the space, but she does some good. The boys, are all great performers, especially Tushar Pandey who plays Mummy and Naveen Polishetty as Acid. Varun Sharma is great too, but Sexa is just an extension of his Chucha (Fukrey). There’s nothing new there. Sushant Singh Rajput as the leading man Ani is brilliant. He never gets a performance wrong and proves, with Chhichhore that he is a force to reckon with. But my favourite has to be Tahir Raj Bhasin, the younger version. He isn’t given much to do when his character is old, but as the young, alienated, aloof college baddie, he is great. The look, the attitude, the performance, they’re all on point.

Tahir Raj Bhasin in Chhichhore

All in all, Chhichhore is a film you don’t need in your life, but having said that, you wouldn’t be bored if you watched it.

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