Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma, Prateik Babbar, Tahir Raj Bhasin
Direction: Nitesh Tewari
After the phenomenal success of ‘Dangal’, Nitesh Tiwari is back with ‘Chhichhore’, a tale about friendship and the halcyon days of college, that is supposed to leave us with a longing and a lump in the throat.
The premise is sound, but clumsy storytelling and unnecessary melodrama drag down the pace of what should ideally have been a feel-good tale. The film gets preachy every time it tries to make a point about either the education system or how do deal with failures in student life.
Raghav’s parents (played by Sushant and Shraddha) were both rank holders in their time. When their son fails to make it through a competitive entrance exam, he is heartbroken and attempts to kill himself. He is scared that he’ll be called a ‘loser’ for the rest of his life. Raghav’s father, Anni, then narrates his own story of college failures and ends up having an unlikely reunion with his friends as they decide to meet after all these years, hoping that they can help Raghav deal with his disappointment.
Tewari manages to get together some interesting characters to plays the role of these hostel boys from H4 — Anni, Sexa, Acid, Mummy, Derek and Bevda. There are interesting anecdotes, too, about how each of them got their nicknames — Sexa is obsessed with sex/porn, Mummy is a momma’s boy, and Bevda, unsurprisingly, has a fondness for the drink. To be fair, the college days make for a fun watch. It’s like a walk down memory lane — sooner or later we come across a character that we can totally identify with, or one who reminds us of a long-lost college acquaintance.
There are some genuinely humorous moments, especially, those with Varun Sharma (Sexa) around. Although Sharma seems to have been portraying the bumbling fool once too often, here seems to have got his comic timing spot on.
For most of us though (or at least for those whose notion of college/school bonhomie is benchmarked ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’), ‘Chhichhore’ comes across as confused, an aspirational venture that is neither the Mansoor Khan classic nor the more contemporary ‘Student of the Year’.
Here’s where ‘Chhichhore’ fails: while their younger avatars are highly watchable and entertaining, their older versions are just not convincing enough. Every character, with the sole exception of Shraddha Kapoor, seems to have aged really fast (Sushant’s character, especially, seems to have aged really rapidly). Looks apart, his performance as the boy’s father is nothing to shout home about either. Sushant hams relentlessly and hams away in a role that requires him to convey the high level of concern he feels for his son. In all that, he comes across as a man in his 60s rather than in his 40s.
The film goes back and forth between timelines, but the transitions are not seamless. The writing is clunky and the screenplay bumpy — the songs and sequences lack cohesiveness and therefore, the fun gets diluted. It’s a pity that films that attempt to pack in a neat little message into their storytelling fail so disappointingly to make the point. I was expecting skilled direction from someone who helmed a blockbuster such as ‘Dangal’. This one, unfortunately, disappoints to say the least.