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Chhalaang

Rajkummar Rao, Nushrrat Bharrucha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Saurab Shukla, Satish Kaushik, and Ila Arun.
Ajay Devgn, Luv Ranjan, Ankur Garg and Bhushan Kumar.
Hansal Mehta
2020-11-13
Hindi
3.5/5

There isn’t a single person I know who doesn’t like the movies Hansal Mehta makes. There isn’t a single person I know who does not like Rajkummar Rao. So when the two of them come together, which is often, there are always heightened expectations. 

Rajkummar Rao essays the role of Montu, an unmotivated Physical Education teacher at a school, in which Neelu Mehra (Nushrrat Bharrucha) is employed as well. When a new P.E. teacher arrives, in the form of Mohammed Zeeshan playing Mohan Singh, things become challenging for Montu and he undertakes on a challenge in which he plans to make his own sports team that will play against Mohan’s team. 

There is nobody that could have played Montu better than Rajkummar Rao. I truly mean that. There is an inherent vulnerability he brings out in Montu which is not hyper-masculine, not that typical sporty hero, and that’s what is lovely about his depiction of Montu. He is silly and I am here for it. He nails Montu completely. Nushrrat, for her part, does well, but I like her in the first half a lot – feisty and challenging. 

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub does well. The ones who steal the show for me though are Saurabh Shukla, Ila Arun and Satish Kaushik. I want to take this time to say that Satish Kaushik has always been one of my most favourite. He is just fantastic and aces all of his sequences – from the first time he comes on screen and his interactions with Saurabh Shukla to his motivation in the second half of the film. 

Hansal Mehta brings out the best in his actors and that’s what is best about him as a director. We are completely zoned into the setting he has created, and we are engrossed in the competition. While the narrative is nothing original (I mean, which sports dramas really are?), it is the compelling way in which little messages are said, and the entertainment aspect, that completely works. My favourite scene? When the school girl slaps the school boy when he suggests that she will be making dough later on in life anyway. Little moments like those truly make the film work. 

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