Ten years ago when '3 Idiots' happened we got a balanced dose of reality and expectation when three non-conformist engineering students questioned outmoded practices, choosing to live life on his own terms and chartering new roads that consciously skirt the rat race. Switch back to 2019 and we have the same backdrop, a larger set of friends who revisit their college lives (hostel to be precise) to counsel an ambitious child on the hospital bed that there is a thin life between losers and winners and the journey of life is indeed more important than the destination.
Chhichhore is an emotional roller coaster of the nostalgia, real-life struggles, college romance, ragging, competition, fights and all wrapped cautiously in a yarn of friendship.
Nitesh Tiwari’s movie starts with a nervous JEE aspirant reeling under the pressure of rank holder parents, desperate to make his cut at the entrance exam so much that it drives him to the edge. What we expect and see is a bunch of engineering students and their journey from being losers to eager beaver who chooses not let results judge their efforts coming back together after 20 years to preach what they learnt the hard way.
Sushant Singh Rajput (Annirudh) and Shraddha Kapoor (Maya) play a divorced couple, and they have a reunion of sorts with their college buddies, though in rather unwanted circumstances.
The screenplay takes a trip down memory lane through hostel corridors, library, sports grounds and canteen conversations and an annual sports competition that determines the climax of the movie and is quite realised.
Many of the scenarios are outright hilarious – like the in which a student is made to write cheer and chants using effigies of professors, one in which the alcoholic friend is thrashed during a train journey or the one in which a "senior performs pole dance with a “freshy” perform a pole dance.
Clever puns, one-liners, some genuinely funny jokes and great performances by assorted cast overpowers Chicchoore even when the plot appears unrealistic especially when Sushant Singh Rajput (Anni) attempts to heal an unconscious mind with the art of storytelling and it works more than real medicines or the ‘loser’s team smart antics like sledging or faking injury during tournament getting unnoticed by the team of bad boys till the final day. Even more unrealistic is the receding hairlines of all of the cast and Shraddha’s long tresses with a few grey stands, maybe the reason why Sexa (Varun Sharma) saying ‘abhi bhi demand main hai’
In spite of a few hiccups, Chhichhore manages to shine with its comic timings that are at a borderline of slapstick humour.
Sushant Singh Rajput delivers a master performance first as a college Romeo and then as a single parent grappling with a broken marriage and trying his best to be a cool dad, and not without Chhichhore's supporting characters. Varun Sharma as Sexa, the porn-obsessed good-at-heart cutie will keep you entertained even at few drag moments in the film. Tahir Raj Bhasin Derek, the intense, brooding senior who's been trying to cut off the tag of a 'loser' since the past three years has a Shah Rukh Khan hangover that you cannot ignore. Naveen Polishetty as Acid, the angry dude always at the brink of burping out slang shines in a role that seems to be tailer-made for him. Saharsh Kumar Shukla as Bevda, and Tushar Pandey as Mummy although did not have much to do yet accomplishes in bringing utmost sincerity in their flawed characters. Special mention to Pratiek Babbar who plays the antagonist with aplomb (how we wish we'd get to see him more often on screen)!
Once again, Nitesh Tiwari deserves applauds for managing to extract such performances from the huge cast and not messing up like took many cooks to a broth!
Shraddha Kapoor like always had little to do apart from being a love interest, an audience and then a supporting wife and an anxious mother. Her appearance is the movie as Sexa puts it is like ‘a Haley's comet’ and so is her romance with Anni. Shraddha as Maya’s character arc is as underdeveloped as her dressing, from midi dresses in 20s to cotton saris, salwars at his 40s, a sloppy work of styling department.
Pritam’s music and background score by Sameer Uddin fails to make a score. There is not a single track that lingers after you come out of the hall. However, introducing a song like Fikar Not in the end credits is a refreshing change from the high-pitched party numbers.
Nitesh Tiwari clearly knows how to set up battles, churn emotions, nail biting moments in the sports field - he proved that in his last film, Dangal, and proves it again here. He embarks on a tried and tested formula but does it with self-assurance so much so that even when at parts the movie gets preachy like when a friend called his kid to advice him not obsess about excelling at term exams for a bike, it doesn't appear over archaic.
The often-heard message of, life is a journey about struggles and not results is not the takeaway of the film. It's about its characters who have their moments of glory and shortcomings. In them, you'll likely find traces and memories of your youth and meet all kinds of friends, the angry one, the horny one, the alcoholic one and the mamma’s boy. Even with its predictable plotline and moralizing tendencies, it managed to keep a broad smile smeared on my face throughout and so it will for you.