Chhalaang is a comedy movie directed by Hansal Mehta and starring Rajkummar Rao, Nushrat Bharucha and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.
Quick question: how awkward would it be if there’s a clear love triangle between three of your teachers in school? Questions like these are what Chhalaang posed in my mind while I watched it. Another clear entertainer with several themes, the movie is a hotchpotch which tries to be a sports movie and a love story, without going too deep into either.
Chhalaang is a story about Montu, a PT teacher in a school, who doesn’t have clear goals in life. However, when the beautiful Neelu joins their school, Montu tries to do whatever it takes to one-up the newly recruited teacher Singh to win her heart.
This is a movie which features stories that we have seen time and time again in every other Bollywood movie. Within the first half an hour Chhalaang tells us exactly what the rest of the movie has in store for us. You know that he’ll fall in love with the daughter of the couple he harasses and that there’s going to be a love triangle – it’s Bollywood, after all. The love triangle is also introduced, as they usually are, and the movie tries to portray Singh as this not-so-great person whereas to be fair, Montu is the real loser here.
That’s the point, right? Our protagonist isn’t the great person that we’d like to follow. I mean, he’s one of those people who run after lovers with sticks on Valentine’s Day shouting stuff about westernisation and the decadence of Indian culture. He also wants to marry Neelu after meeting her for a few days because that’s absolutely healthy. The movie is laden with instances like these where you’d really not want to root for Montu, because who wants a fanatic like that?
Coming to the sports aspect of the movie, Chhalaang focuses more on Montu becoming the ideal PT teacher rather than on the students embracing physical education. It also features the quintessential “training” montage and an ending “competition” sequence. Full disclosure here, I really enjoy montages and these are genuinely very entertaining bits. However, let’s not forget that Montu’s idea of training children was to let dogs chase them, which is traumatising, to say the least.
The movie tries to focus on gender equality and women empowerment as well, but only when it feels convenient. The theme is strewn about here and there and no one really focuses on it much and thus it mostly feels forced.
Rajkummar Rao, Nushrat Bharucha and Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, playing the principal characters, are great in their roles. Rao, who, at this point, is a veteran when it comes to playing small-town boy characters, shines as usual as Montu. He’s quite funny and confused and is relatable as the bumbling and unhappy PT teacher. On the other hand, Ayyub as the gutsy Singh plays his role with finesse. I have always enjoyed watching his performances, and he definitely doesn’t disappoint here as well. Last but not least, Bharucha’s Neelu is feisty and is sometimes the only person whom you can root for in this tale.
However, it is the supporting cast that punches most of the jokes in Chhalaang. Saurabh Shukla, Ila Arun and Satish Kaushik are funny and oftentimes heartwarming as the people who push for Montu to be better. They, as always, add heart and soul to the movie and is one of the reasons why you’d enjoy the movie.
Summing up: Chhalaang
Chhalaang isn’t anything new or refreshing. It is a tale as old as Bollywood, but it is the performances and a few funny moments that makes this movie entertaining. It’s an easy-breezy entertainer and in that respect does well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any songs that will become memorable.
Chhalaang is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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