‘Chhatriwali’: Cast & Crew
Director: Tejas Deoskar
Cast: Rakul Preet Singh, Sumeet Vyas, Satish Kaushik, Rajesh Tailang, Dolly Ahluwalia
Available On: Zee5
Duration: 1 hour 57 minutes
Set in Karnal, ‘Chhatriwali’ is about Sanya Dhingra (Rakul Preet Singh), a female unemployed chemistry genius, who is looking for a job. She finally gets a job at a condom manufacturing factory, and after the initial taboos, she finally agrees to join in as the quality tester of the condoms. However, she keeps it a secret and doesn’t reveal to her family or friends where she is working exactly. She falls in love, and gets hitched, but is still unable to divulge the truth about her job to anyone even on her in-law’s side. Slowly, she starts realising how uneducated in sex education are Indians. So, she takes it upon herself to try to eradicate this societal taboo around sex education and the usage of condoms. Will she get successful in educating the masses? Will she get caught and will her lies get exposed? Will anyone ever be able to forgive her? Or will she simply Scott free for life? Well, for all that you’ll have to watch the film.
Rajesh Tailang is one actor who never disappoints. Even if the character is small, he manages to perform the role so well that you’re bound to forget that he is acting and you end up just getting more and more immersed into the character. The same is the case with his character in ‘Chhatriwali’. As the antagonist, he is so believable that you start seeing your real-life father or elder brother in his persona. He brings out such a stereotypical character with perfect ease and finesse.
After being in the film industry for over a decade Rakul Preet Singh finally has a film where she is the main protagonist. Even though she doesn’t disappoint, but there is nothing new to her character. As in, she has played similar good-looking bubble chirpy characters in many other films, and therefore it doesn’t fall anyway out of her comfort zone. Considering that it was her first female-driven film, the character could have had more shades to it. The emotional connection is barely there. When she is angry or sad, she sounds, looks and feels exactly the same as when she is happy – just that her perfectly polished set of teeth aren’t showing up.
Sumeet Vyas does well in a character that’s barely there throughout the length of the movie. The subtle funny punches that he throws, along with his hilarious facial antics make the character memorable.
Dolly Ahluwalia, who has been a powerhouse performer in such north-Indian characters, was utterly wasted. She hardly had dialogue in the movie. Also, her being an obsessive card player or rather a gambler has been shown a few times in the narrative, but it hasn’t ever been explained how or why that habit started, or whether that habit changes at the end – nothing explained.
Satish Kaushik has been on a streak of playing quirky characters one after the other in the past few years, and he plays another strikingly unique character. He has a really small character, but it’s funny in its mannerisms and quirks.
‘Chhatriwali’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects
The writing of the movie by Priyadarshee Srivastava and Sanchit Gupta has brought forth a story that’s not only relatable but also a genuine problem that people from every small town in India face. They made the characters believable by picking those characters from real life. Characters like that of the school teacher or the principal or the factory owner – we all have seen numerous such characters in our lives while growing up, and that sense of relatability brings genuineness to the characters. To add to that the topic at bay is something that we face even today. No parent in today’s times also wants to discuss about sex education or safe sex with their kids. Forget about parents, even the teachers don’t want to teach the subject or shun it away saying it's an optional question in the exam paper. Bringing all those moments and all those characters to paper was a brilliant job done by Srivastava and Gupta.
What lets the film down is its direction by Tejas Deoskar. While the story is predictable, the concept is novel, and therefore could have been shown in a way which shows a newness to the issue at hand. The taboo of condoms has been shown in similar fashions in recent films like ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ and ‘Helmet’. Had the problem at bay been shown in a way that hadn’t been represented before, then it would have made the film a lot more interesting. If Deoskar had picked up the screenplay in a way where there remains a bit of thrill and intrigue at the end, or maybe altered the course of events a bit, the film could have lived up to its potential, which was actually present in the writing of Srivastava and Gupta.
Siddharth Vasani’s cinematography is genuinely mediocre. While the entirety of the shoot has happened in real-life locations, he could have explored the shots a lot better than what has been done. Some of the kite-flying shots or outdoor roadside shots could have been pictured much better in order to bring in the local feel of the place, which has been weaved into the characters very brilliantly by Srivastava and Gupta.
Shruti Bora’s editing manages to keep the film short and to the point.
None of the songs by Mangesh Dhakde, Rohan-Rohan, Sumeet Bellary or Durgesh R Rajbhatt leaves an impact. The title track sung by Sunidhi Chauhan still sticks with you for a few hours after you’ve seen the movie. But nothing apart from that creates an impact. Not even so much that you want to watch it while you’re watching the film. Considering it’s on OTT, you’re bound to fast-forward almost all of them.
‘Chhatriwali’: Can Kids Watch It?
‘Chhatriwali’ is a novel concept about the importance of sex education in India, the taboo around it and the usage of condoms in small towns. However, what hurts the film badly is its striking similarities to other recent films on sex education – ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ and ‘Helmet’. Therefore, the screenplay looks very predictable and leaves nothing to imagination or a big climax reveal. Despite all of that, the film is indeed a poignant one and makes you wonder what kind of society we want to leave behind for our children's children. The film is a Sweet One-Time Watch. I am going with 2.5 stars.