Chalo movie review: Naga Shaurya, Rashmika Mandanna stand out in this quirky comedy
The Naga Shaurya, Rashmika Mandanna-starrer Chalo turns the concept of cross-border enmity into a hilarious premise that’s full of surprises
The Naga Shaurya, Rashmika Mandanna-starrer Chalo turns the concept of cross-border enmity into a hilarious premise that’s full of surprises. Directed by newcomer Venkatesh Kudumula, the story is set in a village named Tirrupuram, which is divided between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu post-bifurcation of Madras Presidency in 1953. As a result, several differences crop up between Tamilians and Telugu-speaking people in the village. And more than half-a-century later, the two factions in the village can’t see each other eye-to-eye. As preposterous as the premise might sound, Venkatesh Kudumula turns it into a key part of the conflict between characters and it often leads some unexpected results.
Right in the beginning of the film, we are told that Hari (Naga Shaurya) loves to get into fights. His father gets scared about his son’s fate, and one fine day, he gets a brainwave which soon forces Hari to go to Tirrupuram. Hari is shocked to see that there are no fights in his new college, but it doesn’t take him too long to figure out that nothing is as it seems in the village. There is a fence that runs right through the village, and the rest of the story is about how Hari brings this fence down to unite the warring factions.
The barb wire fence is an integral part of the story, so much that without its presence, there’s no conflict or drama in this film; however, the moment it comes under spotlight, the film too begins to lose its sheen. It’s a catch-22 situation, which says so much about the fine line that Venkatesh Kudumula walks to narrate the story. As long as the characters stay away from this fence, Chalo gives us plenty of interesting laugh-out-loud moments, and the sparkling chemistry between Naga Shaurya and newcomer Rashmika Mandanna is a treat to watch. Whether it’s the interactions between students, especially those featuring Naga Shaurya, Satya and Harsha, or how the two lead actors fall in love with each other, the first half of the film is the reason why Chalo feels refreshing to a certain extent.
However, something strange happens once the conflict is established. It falls prey to the urge to become a quintessential Telugu film where the sole purpose of a hero is to unite everyone. Naturally, in this film, Naga Shaurya realises that his happiness lies in bringing the fence down and make everyone understand — Kalisi Unte Kaladhu Sukham (Happiness Lies In Unity). And from there onwards, as he sets out on a wild goose chase to be a hero, the film loses its charm reel by reel. The arrival of Vennela Kishore does add some zing to the proceedings, but it just doesn’t feel it’s right back on track. Watching this film, and the way it ends, made me wonder if the team lost an opportunity to make a full-blown entertainer.
For Naga Shaurya, Chalo feels like a step in the right direction, and he’s completely at ease with himself. Since we aren’t given ample time to brood over whether or not the premise sounds logical enough, it all boils down to how much Naga Shaurya believes in the story and the backdrop to make us root for him. He succeeds to a good extent, until the story runs out of fuel. Rashmika makes a terrific debut and she’s a joy to watch on screen. Chalo also owes a lot to its supporting characters led by Satya and Sudharshan Reddy, who bring plenty of laughs to the proceedings.
The film is also filled with plenty of stereotypes about people from different regions, but thankfully, it stays away from mocking their traits. Chalo, like the title suggests, sets out to offer a fun experience. It’s funny as long as the characters stay irreverent, which is what makes a big impression in the first half, but once things take a serious turn, no one quite seems to understand where to head. It’s a shame, because for a while, Chalo was surprisingly funny.
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