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Movie Review: Chillar Party is enjoyable

Jul 8, 2011

A motley group of kids. An endearing
canine companion. A waif busy washing
cars to earn a living. Middle-class families
who are insensitive to both human beings
and animals. Politicians acting in an inane
and obtuse manner. And kids who feel
they can take on the world. All the
ingredients necessary to create a
melodramatic potboiler have been sourced
and secured into the script. Is this one
more 'childrens' film with morals woven
into the script hoping to see the audience
in tears?
Thankfully no. Chillar Party may not be free
of the obligatory good versus evil theme
which persistently makes its way into this
genre (at least in Bollywood) yet it aims at
generating laughter, without punching
you in the gut.
Starting with the ubiquitous nicknames
sometimes provided by parents or colony
mates, Mumbai's [ Images ] Chandan Nagar
Society has its band of bratty boys named
as encyclopedia, secondhand, panvati etc.
The reason for these names could be as
varied as a personality trait to the family's
financial status. A white Pomeranian
owned by a cranky senior citizen turns
them into dog-haters for the rest of their
life. In this scenario enters Phatka, a skinny
lad with determination and attitude. Both
traits imperative for children who work on
the streets of Mumbai and survive by their
wits alone. His only companion and friend
in the entire world is Bhidu a lovable black
and white pariah.
Phatka survives largely on a diet of tea and
glucose biscuits and keeps to himself. He
sports a ragged yellow t-shirt, doesn't
crave for anything but he's devoted to his
pooch. The kids direct their anger on both
Phatka and Bhidu, but Phatka remains
resilient not wanting to give up this job --
his only means of survival.
Then the bratty middle-class kids realize
the extent of their nastiness and try hard
to make amends. But Phatka isn't a
pushover. Will he relent? Or is this
senseless feud likely to continue?
Our protagonist Phatka played by Irrfan
Khan [ Images ] doesn't have much to say
for himself. When he speaks it's 'tapori
language' picked up from watching the
latest movies. Even as one laughs at his
philosophies about life it's the expressive
brown eyes which speak volumes about
his anguish and loneliness. One sequence
when he fears his beloved pooch has
disappeared he breaks down but with
quiet restraint.
The rest of the brats are on the verge of
adolescence; where they're old enough to
question their parents, too young to rebel
openly. Pre-pubescent, their lives revolve
around cricket and not the opposite sex.
They're real (unlike the kids we've seen in
YRF and Dharma productions), they
grimace, they grumble, but they remain
kids.
The co-directors Nitesh Tiwari and Vikas
Bahl successfully recreate a poignant and
touching tale about the bonds children
forge among themselves, their casual
indifference towards school, parents and
academics and their ability to stay focused
when somebody they deeply care for has
become the casual victim of an adult's
manipulations.
The film has a few really fun moments,
especially when a chance remark such as
'Toh chadddi mein ghoomu kya' invokes a
'chaddi march' with a few hundred kids.
Or the shameless way they manipulate
their parents sans any qualms.
Many 'values' and 'morals' have been
woven into the script. Such as how people
employ child labour without batting an
eyelash. Or how there is no respite for a
daily wage earner even when he's
shivering with fever. Although it could
have been handled in a subtler fashion, but
it forms an integral part of the film.
If the screenplay suffers it is due to the so-
called climax (is any kiddie film complete
without it) which seems foisted. The
children morph into young adults abruptly.
As they mouth dialogues which don't seem
to come from their heart, they lose their
charm which is what attracted us to them
in the first place. The politician and his
goon don't just appear absurd to a child,
they are bizarre villainous caricatures who
ideally should have induced fear but they
turn into mere irritants.
Chillar Party is an enjoyable film with plenty
of laughs. Do watch this, unless of course
you hate kids.