And the weekend is finally here and with it there are a few fresh releases to boast of. With that I finished watching the new Hindi film Chhatriwali which is now streaming on Zee5. A couple of days back, there was a news flash stating that India may have overtaken China in terms of its population. Now while this wasn’t entirely unexpected, what is staggering is that the use of condoms and contraceptives is still a taboo in the Indian society. As per this film, only 1 out of 10 males do opt for condoms which in itself is a staggering stat. The issue may be more so in smaller towns and villages where asking for a condom can get awkward. Along with that, the case of s*x education(censoring the word only to beat the google algorithm) in our curriculum which hasn’t been paid enough attention to.
It was a few months back that I had watched the Hindi film Janhit Mein Jaari which did tackle a similar subject. While that film was funny, it did suffer from high melodrama that ultimately did result in the downfall of the film. So with another film being attempted on a similar subject in the form of Chhatriwali, I was a little skeptical, unsure on how the film would shape up. Now that I have finished watching Chhatriwali, here are my two cents on the same.
Story & Screenplay
Chhatriwali follows the story of Sanya who lands up with a job at a condom manufacturing factory until she realizes its full potential of spreading awareness around a subject that is still considered a taboo. The story here is not quite novel, considering that a similar story has already been made earlier but it is a relevant tale nevertheless. The screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours does ensure that the film does not overstay its welcome. Having said that, I can’t help but think that the writing could have been better here.
The drama has a similar setup as compared to Janhit Mein Jaari(JMJ). So you are introduced to the protagonist who belongs to a small town and is a chemistry genius until fate lands her up at a condom factory. But given that it is a small town and with it beings a sense of awkwardness, she does manage to hide her ‘actual’ job profile from everyone, including the guy whom she falls in love with and eventually marries. If I were to compare the humour of the film with JMJ, then JMJ was far superior with its genuinely funny dialogues that were unexpectedly funny. But here the humour is slightly dry and forced.
This sort of a subject is a typical Ayushmann Khurrana one, something that he has mastered over time. But with it, also comes a sense of repetitiveness. The writing here just taps on the surface and doesn’t go into the depth of the issue. Having said that, at times the simplicity in this rather predictable screenplay does work well too. The writers, thankfully, do not go the melodramatic route which wasn’t really the core of the film. Instead, there are some entertaining sequences and moments created in the screenplay that will put a smile on your face, if not make you laugh.
I still remember the days when the chapter of reproduction was taught to us in school. That day was a laugh riot(only then) and I could totally imagine our teacher trying to impart a lesson amidst the awkwardness. And that aspect is accurately depicted here, going a step forward with the chapter being taught separately to boys and girls across two classrooms. So much so that the teacher goes around saying that this chapter is ‘optional’ which was indeed atrocious. So while this drama does not go into the depth of the issue, it is most definitely a conversation starter. I just wish that this aspect would have been tapped into a bit more as opposed to the slightly cliched aspect of creating a ‘revolution’ of sorts.
The events leading up to the final act are decent and quite predictable. This drama did follow a proper three act structure and so there were no real surprises thrown in. It was fairly expected with the way it ended but I did like how they also did touch upon the state of abortion and how it affects the female body. So the messaging here wasn’t drilled in your head like in JMJ, instead it was just stated in a slightly more effective manner which is where the differentiator does lie. So overall, the screenplay here is watchable and decent that acts as a conversation starter.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are decently well penned although not as funny as JMJ. The music is good and goes well with the mood of the drama. The BGM at the very beginning was stereotypical with a typical Punjabi tone to it but as the drama did progress, it did get better. The cinematography is good too as is the editing. Director Tejas Vijay Deoskar does a good job here in creating a light family entertainer with a good underlying message that wasn’t drilled through the head. He could polish a little skills by pushing the envelope as opposed to playing it safe, next time around.
The performances are pretty good here. Dolly Ahluwalia as Sanya’s mother, Riva Arora as Mini and Kajol Chugh as Sanya’s sister have their moments to shine. Prachee Shah Pandyaa as Nisha is wonderfully understated. Rajesh Tailang as Rajan is terrific to watch as usual. Satish Kaushik as Ratan Lamba is first rate. Summet Vyas has his own style of enacting roles and his USP does lie in the ease with which he portrays them with minimal effort. As Rishi, he is pretty good here and lands a few jokes at unexpected places. Rakul Preet Singh as Sanya is fabulous here, bustling with energy and doing a great job here.
Chhatriwali is a socially relevant drama with good performances that can be watched once. Going in with an extra half star given the relevance of the subject. Available on Zee5.