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3.5 Star popcorn reviewss

A few weeks back we witnessed the best series coming out of India in a very long time called Scam 1992. That was directed by Hansal Mehta, the man behind gems like Aligarh and Shahid. And so when it was announced that his brand new film Chhalaang would be released on Diwali on Amazon Prime, naturally the excitement was palpable. To add to it, it was a grand reunion of sorts with Rajkummar Rao, this actor-director duo have produced some of the finest work together. Add to that(yes just keep adding), it was a sports drama, which have lately become a bit of an overkill but are always exciting. Its trailer looked super promising, does the movie take a ‘Chhalaang’ into the heart of the audience, stay tuned.

Chhalang is the small town story of a PT teacher who has to prove his mettle when he is asked to assist a new PT teacher who is appointed. And so he challenges the new teacher in a host of sports. The story is like any other sports drama that follows a fixed template. The screenplay is exactly that – predictable. The thing with sports dramas is that you can only do so much to shock the audience. But having said that, the drama should be interesting and entertaining even though we know what to expect. And the good news is that the drama is entertaining. The film smartly tackles some important social issues too which earns itself some brownie points particularly in the second hour. The sports sequences could have been filmed better(the basketball sequences were clearly edited instead of a single shot which dampened the excitement) and the film was heading towards a bit of a clichéd whimper but the finale made amends for it(thankfully). The final message is a good one and something that is relevant too. So in other words, the screenplay is predictable but entertaining nevertheless. The dialogues are good, the music is average and a better soundtrack could have been helpful. Hansal Mehta after the stupendous success of Scam 1992 has set the bar so high that it is naturally difficult to replicate that again, but he still has done a good job with this clichéd drama. His direction is the best when talking about the social issues.

The performances are also quite good. Satish Kaushik as Montu’s father shines in a cameo. Rajiv Gupta as Neelu’s father also has his moments. From the kids, Garima Kaur as Pinki and Naman Jain as Bablu stand out. Ila Arun as Usha is good but has little to do. Jatin Sarna as Dimpy is hilarious in a small role. Saurabh Shukla as Shukla ji is again pretty good. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as I M Singh has done an excellent job, I was the happiest seeing him in a meaty role. The man deserves more such roles. Nushratt Bharuccha as Neelu looks so pretty and has given a powerful performance. She is slowly improving and owning the screen with every outing. And Rajkummar Rao has his second release of the week after Ludo and he as Montu is yet again brilliant. This is another huge green tick in his report card.

Though it has nothing new to offer, Chhalaang is a nice fun entertainer which can be watched with the entire family, this festive season. Available on Amazon Prime.

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