Director: Hansal Mehta
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Nushrat Bharucha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Satish Kaushik, Ila Arun and Saurabh Shukla
Written by: Aseem Arrora, Zeishan Quadri & Luv Ranjan
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video
CHHALAANG is the story of a local PT teacher in Haryana. Mahinder Hooda aka Montu (Rajkummar Rao) is a PTI (Physical Training Instructor) in Sir Chotu Ram School in Jhajjar, Haryana. He had been an alumni of the same school and had participated in sports competition from school but he quit as he failed to make it to the states team. His attitude has been complacent for everything since then, especially about his job as a PT teacher which he got through his father’s reference to the principal. Besides this, he also spends a lot of time on moral policing. One day he scolds an older couple. Unfortunately for him, they are the parents of Neelima aka Neelu (Nushrratt Bharuccha), who is the new computer teacher and Montu is completely smitten with her. He realizes his mistake and in time both of them become close. Soon, Inder Mohan Singh (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) joins the school as a PT teacher and Montu is demoted to an assistant PT teacher, although his salary would remain the same. Arrival of Inder gives Montu a hard time, especially when he gets too friendly with Neelu. One day due to Inder’s taunt, Montu assaults him. The principal asks Montu to apologize but he refuses to and then requests her to hold a competition between two teams of the school. One team would be trained by Singh and the other by Montu. Further, Singh will have the advantage of selecting the best students. Montu asks the principal that if his team loses, he’d resign and he expects vice versa from Singh. Singh gives his nod. The principal, too, agrees and selects three sports for the tournament – basketball, 400 meters relay race and kabaddi. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
First, the film is predictable, you could predict the story from the trailer itself. The question then becomes if the journey is really worth it? It’s not a really easy answer as yes or no as it mainly depends on a person’s preferences. The journey some may find worth, some don’t. The writers although have kept the predictable story sprinkled with some interesting moments and scenes and yes, it’s entertaining, in parts, otherwise the predictability is to the point it makes you cringe. Although the film does give out a nice message. The film is only entertaining in parts and that too because of the actors. The story does really let you down. You also wonder what the core of the film is, although somewhere down the line it settles for a sports drama. The execution of the film has been great, and that makes it a decent watch.
Technically, the film is good. Cinematography by Eeshit Narain and Chris Reed is top notch, their work really elevates some scenes. The editing is sans complaint. The music is not chartbuster worthy and no song really stands out. The screenplay is weak and had a lot of scope for improvement. The costume design and the production design is brilliant and realistic. The sports direction is great too.
The film boasts of some strong performances. Rajkummar Rao is in his element. Seeing him in Ludo and then in Chhalaang just tells you the range of this talented actor and just how versatile he is. Nushrat Bharucha is reliable in her role and does well. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is a worthy rival to Rajkummar in the film, and that for me sums up his performance in the film. The rest of the cast offer good support.
Hansal Mehta directs and executes this film quite well, and turns this one into a decent watch.