Hello fellow binge watchers! Most of us have grown up in an education system where PT period’s importance was next to that of a free period. But your PT teacher’s influence extended beyond that one class. You might end up sucking at any or all sports but it’s the sportsmanship that he/she teaches you for life. That makes the premise of Chalaang, with a PT teacher as a central character compelling. It is the superficial hints of Luv Ranjan in this Hansal Mehta film that doesn’t really add up very well.
Monty is a complacent PT teacher placed in a municipal school through ‘sifarish’. Monty’s character brings out the quirks of a typical PT teacher with a lot of nostalgia, thumbs up for that. Nobody hates or likes him much until one day his routine life is disturbed by the entry of a more able and qualified sports teacher. This guy is not only a threat to his job but also to his very questionable love life. At this point the film attempts to make a sudden shift from frivolous romance to a responsible sports drama. Mr Singh, played by the very able Zeeshan Ayub is a pure hero material character forced to be a villain, because the story demands an underdog win. What follows is predictable face-off between these two which sadly is inspired by ego and no morals as such.
Chalaang tries to be multiple things, a love triangle, a sports movie, a social monologue, but fails at everything. The only reason it stays entertaining throughout is due to its cast. Rajkumar Rao with his small town, unambitious guy act is repetitive but delightful to watch nevertheless. It is the character actors who keep the narrative tight and real. Seasoned actors like Saurabh Shukla, Satish Kaushik and Ila Arun are organically funny with brilliant timing. Special mention of Baljinder Kaur for being the most authentic Haryanvi mom.
Nusrat Bharucha is the only misplaced actor here. Her character feels like a quick make up and accent change of her previous Luv Ranjan roles. Can’t blame her entirely because there is hardly a character arc defined for her. She is the quintessential Hindi film heroine ‘jiske nafrat mein bhi pyaar hai’ and who will stand ‘behind’ the successful man. It’s almost hypocritical how the film preaches women empowerment but all the heavy lifting must be done by men. Even a strong character of Ila Arun, the principal comes with a caveat that a kind man had stepped down to let her grow.
Challaang remains a confused and non-ambitious attempt in the genre where much progress has been made. It’s a mildly engaging story elevated by its direction and cast.
Going with 2.5/5 cutting for this one