‘CHHALAANG’ | 13 November, 2020

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Ajay Devgn Ffilms, T-Series and Luv Films’ Chhalaang is a sports film.

Mahinder Hooda (Montu) (Rajkumar Rao) is a PT teacher in principal Usha Gehlot’s (Ila Arun) school. Montu lives in Haryana with his father, who is lawyer Devendra Rana (Satish Kaushik), mother (Baljinder Kaur) and a younger brother Bablu (Naman Jain). The school appoints a computer science teacher, Neelima (Nushrat Bharucha) whom Montu falls in love with. She also likes Montu but she is not head over heels in love with him.

The school appoints one more PT teacher, I.M. Singh (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub). Not only that, the principal also asks Montu to assist Singh. This, obviously, doesn’t go down too well with Montu. He resigns from his job but then realises his folly. He then asks the principal to have a competition between Singh and himself. He explains that the winner would be the PT teacher. At first reluctant, the principal relents when the ex-principal, Shukla (Saurabh Shukla), prevails upon her.

The stage is, therefore, set for Montu’s team to be pitted against Singh’s team. It is evident that Singh has a far superior team. As he is prone to do, Montu is about to call it quits but Neelima becomes his pillar of support. What happens finally? Who wins the competition?

Luv Ranjan’s story offers very little by way of novelty as one has seen similar stories in several earlier films. The screenplay, penned by Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arora and Zeeshan Quadri, has its plus and minus points. The preparation for the competition has some well-written scenes. Some light moments are also ably written. However, the biggest drawback is that the antagonist doesn’t appear like a true villain. In other words, I.M. Singh is too polite, decent, respectful and fair to be challenged by hero Montu. In a drama like this, the need was for the protagonist and the antagonist to be diametrically opposite. Since that is not so, the intensity of the competition is diluted a great deal. Put differently, it can be said that even if the audiences would feel like rooting for Montu, they wouldn’t hate Singh so much that they would pray for his defeat. Therefore, the thrill of a competition is not complete. Also, when Neelima and Montu’s lawyer-father visit the students’ homes to convince their parents, it is not clear why both have to do the same job. Since their ways of convincing are different, why do they both go to each student’s home? Likewise, Montu instigates his students to leave Singh’s team and join him — which, incidentally, does not behove a hero — and even takes the students to the principal but he himself resolves the matter by asking the principal to not allow this to happen. Why would a person instigate his students if, after a few moments, he himself would be nullifying his action? There are some scenes which the viewers expect but they don’t unfold the way they should. For example, Montu’s younger brother (Bablu) joins Singh’s team. The audience is bound to expect that this point would be milked in the climax. The milking happens but not half as effectively as the audience of Hindi cinema would expect. Further, the winner in the end makes a speech which almost makes the entire film look like a futile exercise.

Dialogues, written by Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arora and Zeeshan Quadri, are excellent. Special mention must be made of the sher-kutta dialogues between Montu, Singh and Shukla, and the pasand-pyar and weak-and-strong-students dialogues mouthed by Neelima.

Rajkumar Rao excels as Montu. He gives his cent per cent to the character and plays it with all the conviction at his command. Nushrat Bharucha gets limited scope and does a fair job. But she constantly wears such high heels that they become an eye-sore, particularly on the sports ground and — hold your breath! — even on the sports day! Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub also does a swell job. He does full justice to his role. Having said that, it must be added that his character does not have all that was needed to make a strong antagonist. Satish Kaushik delivers a heartwarming performance as Montu’s father, Devendra Rana. Saurabh Shukla makes his presence amply felt as Shukla. Ila Arun is endearing as principal Usha Gehlot. Jatin Sarna does a fair job as Montu’s friend, Dimpy. Baljinder Kaur leaves a fine mark as Montu’s mother. Rajeev Gupta and Suparna Marwah provide decent support as Neelima’s parents. Naman Jain (as Bablu) and Garima Kaur (as Pinky) provide excellent support. Anil Choudhary (as Maths teacher Kapoor), Prakhar Prakash (as Ravi), Manasvi Soni (as Manasvi) and Tanishq Chaudhary (as Tanishq) lend fair support. Others are adequate.

Hansal Mehta’s direction is fair. However, the adrenaline rush the viewers should experience in a film of this kind is missing. Music (Vee, Hitesh Sonik and Yo Yo Honey Singh) is quite nice. The title track (Hitesh Sonik) and ‘Care ni karda’ (Yo Yo Honey Singh) are the pick of the lot. Lyrics (Luv Ranjan, Guru Randhawa, Alfaaz, Yo Yo Honey Singh and Hommie Dilliwala) are quite nice. Song picturisations (by Howard Rosemeyer and Vijay Ganguly) are so-so. Hitesh Sonik’s background music is effective. Eeshit Narain’s camerawork (one song has been cinematographed by Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran) is of a good standard. Production designing (Shashank Tere and Manini Mishra) is nice. Editing (Akiv Ali and Chetan M. Solanki) could’ve been sharper.

On the whole, Chhalaang is a very ordinary fare. It lacks the excitement of a sports film and will, therefore, not score much. Had it been released in the cinemas, it would’ve done very average business.

Released today (13-11-’20) on Amazon Prime Video.