The director-actor pair, Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao, has given us four wonderful films. Their collaboration worked best in a gritty and unforgettable film like Shahid (which won the National Award for Rao). Their fifth film together, Chhalaang, disappoints a bit because you expect much more from a brilliant collaboration like theirs.
Haryanvi boy Mahindra, urf Montu, (Rao) is a flawed character. He is surfing through life with no real purpose or intent. He has a day job of a PT teacher in the school that he studied in. And, he gets by without really putting his heart into his job, because he has won the favour of the principal of the school (Illa Arun in good form) by helping her in her other chores.
Montu’s trusted aide is Shuklaji (also a teacher in the school). Montu leads the Romeo gang, leading a group of goons and beating up couples. It takes the arrival of Neelima, urf Neelu, (Nushrat Bharucha), the new computer teacher in the school, for Montu to realise that he needs to buckle up and realise the repercussions of his actions. But, it is the arrival of yet another PT teacher, I.M Singh (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub), and the possibility of losing his job and his girl, that forces Monty to re-look at his own life and re-ignite the passion in him. That’s when he chooses to take himself and his life seriously and throws a challenge at this opponent, Singh.
Mehta’s light-hearted and realistic approach in creating Montu’s world works well. What works against the film is its predictable story (written by Luv Ranjan, who is also the co-producer of the film). The dialogues (written by Luv Ranjan, Aseem Arrora and Zeishan Quadri) are funny at some points. The climax lacked the energy and passion that one would expect from a film of this kind.
Rajkummar Rao is brilliant as usual. While just recently we saw him playing an emotional fool in Ludo with such aplomb, Rao does it again this time playing a loveable loser. The other characters (played by Satish Kaushik as his father, Illa Arun and Saurabh Shukla) lend good support. Nushrat Bharucha doesn’t really fit into the scheme of things, but gives a decent performance.
Mehta and Rao seem to have made a ‘chhalaang’ of sorts, by trying their hands with mainstream comedy, perhaps as a breather from their otherwise serious collaborations. One hopes that they go back to giving us the kind of films they did earlier. This one is fairly enjoyable, but easily forgettable.
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Saurabh Shukla, Satish Kaushik, Ila Arun, Jatin Sarna
Director: Hansal Mehta
Platform: Amazon Prime