Chillar Party-review

Director: Nitesh Tiwari, Vikash Bahl
Actors: Naman Jain, Sarath Menon   
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chillar party is a pretty sweet title for a film. It'set around little children. They live together at a housing "society" or "colony" (the term is used interchangeably). They call their group 'chillar party', have a proper headquarter with an old TV set in a garage, fight rival cricket teams in the neighbourhood…. chillar party.01
Each one is introduced to us separately for how they get their obvious and sometimes far fetched nicknames: 'Akram' is a left-arm fast bowler (a rather dated epithet, one could say); 'Panvati' always speaks too soon; 'Second Hand' wears clothes his elder brother's outgrown; Aflatoon attends too many hobby classes…. The atmospherics are perfect. Kids are cute. Aren't they all? Always. chillar party
The gang of little boys for a premise instantly hearkens you back to possibilities of fun that Enid Blyton's characters were once capable of: Famous Five, Secret Seven, Five Find-outers etc (does everyone read them anymore?) It's just the screenplay here that appears stretched way beyond its shape and screen size. Yawn. If you must. Don't, if that's rude. It's a children's movie after all. chillar party03
Poor, skinny kid with a nickname 'Phatka' enters this colony, along with his pet dog Bhidu (for a buddy). He's employed to wash residents' cars. The 'chillar party' dislikes this kid first. They feel his dog will poop on their cricket pitch? Really? Naah. Because, you see, this is Act 1, they must hate him (before they can love him). chillar party04
Phatka, the kid (most natural actor in this lot), meets a man with a woman's voice. He advises him to become a jock on radio. Bingo. The man in turn argues his case to be included into the housing society's Bhangra party. The parents don't want their kids to interact with this street kid, since he's screwing up their language. The boy also has enviable cricketing skills, but that's altogether another story, merely touched upon, left unexplored. chillar party04jpeg
As is the fact that the anonymous, unknown boy himself can't afford food and shelter, unlike his new friends, born to wealth. There's always a minor touch and go to somehow warm up. The film merely adds thought to thought, plot to plot, sob to sob. Wait. If you must. chillar party05
Effectively, the picture zeroes in on a politician who wants Bhidu, the pet, out of the building complex. Because he bit his secretary at a neighbourhood function! He launches statewide campaign against stray animals. The children counter this by marching around South Bombay in their chaddies (underwear), getting coverage in the press, entering live television debate. One housing complex problem turns viral. Because, you know, this is the climax, end of Act 3.
The welfare minister, a seriously poor politician, has no better issue to rake up. Neither does television news. Parents remain lame in every way. If there's indeed an allegory here, like the lunch-box in Amole Gupte's stunning Stanley Ka Dabba, I wouldn't know. Certainly that doesn't seem the immediate intention.
You still wish these kids well. So to the others who will go, watch this short film, extended to a full length feature, if they must. Do children ever have much of a choice at theatres anyway?

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