Movie Review: Chaarfutiya Chhokare
Star Cast: Soha Ali Khan, Zakir Hussain, Harsh Mayar, Mukesh Tiwari, Seema Biswas
Director : Manish Harishankar
India Express Rating: One star
A do-gooding young woman shows up driving a shiny SUV in a tiny kasba in Bihar all by herself with a single point agenda: to start a school. Point out the anomalies in the above sentence.
The entire sentence is one, because, to begin with, a tiny village in Bihar isn’t the kind of place for a personable young female to be swanning around on her own, especially if that area is swarming with criminals young and old, if we are to go by the film.
Neha Malini (Soha Ali Khan) is thus called, you suspect, because a villager can make a joke about Hema Malini. Her zeal to open a school in that specific part of the country is never given a rationale. All we know is what we see: this enthu-cutlet of a girl, bouncing around on kachcha roads, armed with bottled water and chocolates, minus companions, looking for the ‘ gaon ki paathshaala’.
In short order, she encounters a trio of 13-year-old boys, and a slew of corrupt cops and ‘netas’, all busily engaged in the worst crimes known to humanity — child trafficking, bonded labour, prostitution. Lakhan (Zakir Hussain) is the local dada, who roars about in an open jeep, sporting a gamchha that looks patently Assamese and an accent which is studiedly Bihari. The cop (Mukesh Tiwari) likes to take his shirt off when he is interrogating. The villagers are, of course, petrified.
Does any kind of logic or reasoning go into making these kinds of films? Putting a spotlight on the ills of child marriage– and the other things– can never be a bad thing. The leader of the ‘chaarfutiye chhokare’ Avadesh (Mayar) is ‘married off’ to a little girl of the same age, with no one raising their voice, because where would the plot go if the ‘shaadi’ were stopped? The boy’s mother, played by Seema Biswas, does the best she can but clearly she didn’t sign up for the things she has to do: can someone please give this actress something real to do?
The three little boys roam the countryside carrying guns like they would carry ‘gulli-dandas’, and we would feel for these kids who are forced into criminal activity at such a young age if there was anything remotely believable about the film.
Not one thing rings true. Not the leading lady, togged out in spotless shirts and slacks doing NGO-giri, not the young chokras (Mayar is the endearing young fellow from ‘I Am Kalam’), and not the bad ‘uns.