Cast: Naman Jain, Sarath Menon
Director: Nitesh Tiwari, Vikash Bahl
Good ideas don't always translate into good films. 'Chillar Party' is one such well-intentioned movie with a message for children and adults alike. It starts off promisingly enough, but loses all track of its audience and script, turning into a confused mess by the time it drags to the end. And yet, it is to the credit of the enthusiastic, pint-sized cast and Chillar Party's two writer-directors, Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari, that you feel that at least in portions, this film is both sweet and fun.
The film's title refers to a kiddie gang of young boys belonging to Chandan Nagar colony - a rambunctious group of imps with nicknames like Second-Hand, Encyclopaedia, Jhangiya and the rather politically incorrect-sounding one, Panauti. To this motley crew joins the less privileged Fatka, an orphan who earns his keep by washing the cars in Chandan Nagar's compound and who bunks in an abandoned car with his faithful dog Bhidu. After a shaky start, the 'Chillar Party' gang becomes firm friends with Fatka and Bhidu, and this part is endearing; the lengths that each of them will go to for the sake of friendship.
Yet all of this is threatened by a grim and glowering politician who, for reasons I still haven't quite understood, becomes determined on getting Bhidu captured by the dog pound. The neta's agenda comes across as confused, and suddenly 'Chillar Party' takes a turn for the absurd.
To save their beloved four-legged friend Bhidu, the 'Chillar Party' gang takes up a signature campaign to get a No Objection Certificate from the colony's residents. When all else fails, this group of boys takes out - wait for it - an underwear campaign that has crowds of Mumbai's kids join in. The sight of all these children marching the streets in their underwear isn't cute; in fact it feels exploitative, and to a large extent unsavoury.
The problem with 'Chillar Party' is that it goes about a completely convoluted way to deliver a sweet message. Apart from the fact that the kids here fight for what is right, it also subtly talks about erasing the class divide. Yet where the film could have been warm and cute, the minister angle in the plot botches it up. It also drags on endlessly, so while the children are endearing - especially the terrific Naman Jain who plays Jhangiya - you've run out of patience long before the film is over.
I'm going with two-and-a-half out of five for 'Chillar Party'. It isn't half bad, but the party pooper here is a script that has no direction home.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Jaydip Ghosh, Kolkata
Rajesh Shah, Ahmedabad
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