Director Tejas Prabhaa Vijay Deoskar’s Chhatriwali is set in Karnal, and revolves around Sanya Dhingra (Rakul Preet Singh) – a chemistry teacher, who is looking for a full time job to help her financially struggling family to sustain. As luck would have it, she soon gets an offer from Ratan Lamba (Satish Kaushik) to be the quality control head at his condom company, a role she hesitantly takes up because of the taboos and perception attached to the product. However, as she eventually understands the importance of her job and truly accepts the role, it unfortunately invites a plethora of problems in her personal life. How she battles that, while also championing a larger cause is what Chhatriwali is all about.
While it is extremely important for the first scene of the movie to grab the viewer’s attention, it is equally crucial for it to give a sneak peek into what to expect in the remaining minutes, while also setting the tone of the film. Tejas Prabhaa Vijay Deoskar, Ronnie Screwvala and ZEE5 film’s opening sequence does just that. It starts off brilliantly with a situational comedy set-up that immediately pulls you into the world of Chhatriwali, and maintains that tone throughout the project. The biggest hero of this Rakul Preet Singh and Sumeet Vyas starter is its story and screenplay written by Sanchit Gupta and Priyadarshee Srivastava.
Social comedies often face criticism for being preachy, however Chhatriwali manages to avoid that path by being entertaining and also conveying the message strongly. It not only deals with wrong perceptions around condom and sex education, but also delves into topics like stereotype, equality or rather lack of it, and on the difference between education and literacy. I have always believed they are two different things and is highlighted subtly with Rajesh Tailang’s character Rajan Kalra aka Bhai Ji. He is a biology teacher who is struggling to accept simple science because of societal norms and age-old practices.
The writer’s play up on many dichotomic features of his and many other characters in the film, which adds an interesting layer to the narrative. Kudos to the writers for penning this story, and to the director Tejas Prabhaa Vijay Deoskar for bringing that alive on the screen. Cinematographer Siddharth Vasani’s camerawork adds impact to the scenes, while production designer Swapnali Das has stayed true to the milieu of the project. Casting by Abhishek Banerjee and Anmol Ahuja is bang on.
Interestingly, while watching the movie I often thought about Shoojit Sircar’s Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam starrer Vicky Donor. No, Chhatriwali’s story is not similar to the 2012 film, and is absolutely original. But it does deal with a taboo subject as sensitively and effortlessly as Vicky Donor did. So kudos to the team for that.
In an attempt to put forth a larger point, the writers somewhat underplay the importance of trust in a relationship. That one portion between Sanya and Rishi Kalra (Sumeet Vyas) seems like a convenient path chosen by the writers to take their message forward, which is a let down for the overall sincerity in the narrative. The last 15 minutes of the film also loses pace.
Another let down of Chhatriwali is its background score composed by Mangesh Dhakde as there is an inconsistency in its desired impact. Songs, created by different composers, too are not memorable.
Rakul Preet Singh plays her part to the T, effortlessly showcasing her journey from ignorance to acceptance. Sumeet Vyas brings Rishi Kalra alive on the screen, and is there anything that Dolly Ahluwalia, Rajesh Tailang, and Satish Kaushik can’t really play? Prachee Shah Paandya is good as Nisha Kalra, but I believe she has the potential to play more layered characters. Rakesh Bedi in his limited screen time as Madan Chacha stands out.
Overall, despite a few odds, Chhatriwali manages to entertain and is also able to convey a strong message with impact. Now, it’s rare for a film to pull that off, so I would highly recommend it.
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