Chillar Party: Small film with a big heart
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Sannath Menon, Rohan Grover, Naman Jain and their Chillar party
Director: Vikas Bahl, Nitesh Tiwari
Chillar Party is a small film with a big heart where a kiddo gang shows more maturity than the adult species and a stray dog inspires you to be human.
The film opens with each child character being individually introduced through their traits, helping you familiarize with the Chillar Party from Chandar Nagar society. When Fatka enters the society as a domestic help with his mutt-mate Bhidu, after the initial friction, the boy and his dog become inseparable members of the kiddo gang.
Soon a scheming politician comes up with a drive to get rid of stray dogs from the city which endangers the life of Bhidu. The society members want Fatka to leave with his dog but the Chillar Party stands up in support of their friend. Together they attempt every possible trick from signature campaign, chaddi march to spreading public awareness to save their friends.
The reason Chillar Party connects with you instantly is because it is honest and has its heart in the right place. The child actors are neither sugary sweet nor cacophonously cranky. They are pleasantly natural and absolutely believable. The chemistry and charm of the society kids bring back memories of Mani Ratnam’s Anjali (1990). Every kid in Chillar Party has an interesting characterization that gives them a unique identity.
Writer-director Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari attempt to delve into the psyche of the child protagonist and thereby we get to see the entire film from the children’s viewpoint. The writing is imaginative exploring both, the naughty and the innocent side of nascent years. Scenes showing the society kids being influenced by Fatka’s tapori lingo or the ones where the Chillar Party is trying to get a grip on news headlines are hilarious.
But while it primarily works as a fun film, Chillar Party has some very poignant moments that bring a lump in your throat. The scene in initial reels where Fatka is in search of his dog and their subsequent reunion can make the stonehearted go soggy. The unadulterated camaraderie amongst the kids and their selfless solidarity simply touches your heart. Also the heroism that they exude is so endearingly effective as compared to the synthetic bravery of adult actors.
On the flipside, the narrative becomes slightly contrived in the second half as the innocence of the young minds is somewhat diluted with too much planning coming into picture. The entire call-for-revolution through the children chaddi march, despite adorable, remains peripheral to the plot and doesn’t directly affect the dog dilemma. Further the climactic encounter of the children with the politician on a chat show appears rather random and superficial. And while this children’s film refreshingly refrains itself from getting preachy or melodramatic till this extent, it sadly falls prey to it in the penultimate moments.
While all the kids are natural and charming, Naman Jain as Jhangiya, the kid who doesn’t wear underwear, is the scene-stealer. He gets some of the best scenes and best lines in the film and entertains the most. Irfan Khan as Fatka is perfect in his part. His bonding with the dog seems so real that it makes the viewer readily relate to the central conflict of the film. Sanath Menon as Encyclopedia, the mastermind in the group seems somewhat rehearsed for his mature-than-his-age character but is, nevertheless, charming. Chinmai Chandranshuh as the unlucky Sardar kid Lucky Singh is funny. Rohan Grover as Akram, the team captain is confident and dances amazingly well. Aarav Khanna as Aflatoon, Vishesh Tiwari as Second Hand and Divji Handa as Shaolin are cute.
Chillar Party is a perfect example of how a children’s film need not be childish. Unmissable for children and must-watch for adults!