‘Chhichhore’ Raises an Affectionate Toast to Failure
‘Chhichhore’ is refreshing in an unexpected way.
(Alert: This contains spoilers)
I distinctly remember the day. I was in Class VIII when the results came out. I had failed in maths! Suddenly, the spotlight was on me. Teachers stood transfixed and classmates sympathised – it was as if the whole school was mourning the red number on my otherwise decent report card. As I inched closer home, the only question that bothered me was – how are my parents going to react? Of course, maths had never been their strength, but they somehow managed to evade that ominous red mark. But you know what happened when they pored on the numbers? We all went to have ice cream!
More than a decade later, watching Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore took me back to that incident. True, the film abounds in flaws, but the one special thing that perhaps no other college caper has managed to do is celebrate failure.
A few friends reunite after some good 20 years when one of them is going through a crisis – Aniruddh Pathak’s (Sushant Singh Rajput) son Raghav has attempted to commit suicide because he fails to clear the JEE exam.
A few friends reunite after some good 20 years when one of them is going through a crisis – Aniruddh Pathak’s (Sushant Singh Rajput) son Raghav has attempted to commit suicide because he fails to clear the JEE exam. Thus begins a nostalgic story of a bunch of “losers” – Sexa (Varun Sharma), Acid (Naveen Polishetty), Bewda (Saharsh Kumar Shukla), Anni, Derek (Tahir Raj Bhasin) and Mummy ( Tushar Pandey). For those wondering about the bizarre nicknames, they are synonymous to the nature of the characters.
The reputation of Model College depended on a cycle competition in ‘JJWS’, kabaddi and a race called the shots in ‘Student of the Year’ and its sequel, whereas a basketball match is the defining moment in ‘Chhichhore.’
These specimens are housed in the most sorry hostel of the engineering institute – H4. Rooms are tiny, food not palatable, studies are an alien concept and sports are out of the question. This so-called reputation earns them the coveted tag and they are snubbed time and again by the elite H3 hostelites. Doesn’t this remind you of the affluent kids of Rajput College from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, who never let go of opportunities to taunt the ‘pyjamachhaps’ from Model College? Or even Student of the Year 1 and 2, where there was a clear demarcation between Tata and Bata kids and Pishorilal and St. Teresa students?
One way to get rid of the infamous title is to take part in sports and defeat the bad guys. The reputation of Model College depended on a cycle competition in JJWS, kabaddi and a race called the shots in Student of the Year and its sequel, whereas a basketball match is the defining moment in Chhichhore.
Let’s start with our all-time favourite JJWS. Aamir Khan’s Sanju fails in his exams, plays pranks on his brother, steals a car to impress the rich and beautiful Devika (Pooja Bedi) and does not hesitate to take on Shekhar Malhotra (Deepak Tijori). His father is fed up with him and there’s a constant comparison with Sanju’s studious and sincere elder brother Ratan. It’s only when the latter meets with an accident that Sanju wears the cape of responsibility and pledges to win the race. With all his flaws, Sanju has an interesting character arc and we all cheer for him when he wins the competition.
It’s a struggle to prove oneself in ‘Chhichhore’ too, and I was half expecting the H4 gang to lift the intra-college championship trophy. But the director had something pleasant planned for us.
There’s a success story in the insufferable Student of the Year too. Abhimanyu (Sidharth Malhotra) is the poor bechara with the most cliché sob story and Rohan (Varun Dhawan) is the spoilt, rich brat with a golden heart. Rohan is interested in music, but his tone-deaf businessman dad considers that to be mere noise and what follows is a barrage of insults. On the other hand, “ambitious” Abhimanyu is slowly dying in his stifling environment. Their only escape to a better life is, no, of course not studying, but winning a series of competitions. Yes, Abhimanyu did lose the race but that was a choice he made.
It’s a struggle to prove oneself in Chhichhore too, and I was half expecting the H4 gang to lift the intra-college championship trophy. But the director had something pleasant planned for us.
Not a “talented” group, the boys resort to hilarious tricks to defeat their opponents. Their ‘efforts’ bear fruit and they reach the finals. It is only then that the game becomes somewhat fair. Bewda owns the chess match, Derek (Tahir Raj Bhasin) darts towards the finish line, and all eyes are on Anni, who has to bring home the third medal by scoring three points in the basketball game. The ball is hurled with supreme confidence, but it touches the edge of the basket and falls to the ground with a big thud, crushing all hopes. “You didn’t want to die?,” Raghav asks his dad, and the camera takes us back to the court where the entire college claps and cheers these boys who promised themselves to be honest in their efforts during the finals. Holding a mirror in front of us, Chhichhore shows that proving your mettle doesn’t necessarily mean kissing a medal.
Rivalries are an integral part of college life, but the second thing that Chhichhore scores on is the depiction of the “bad boy”. Shekhar Malhotra (Deepak Tijori) put on a flawless performance in JJWS. He has impressive abs, flirts with multiple girls at the same time, picks up fights with both Sanju and Ratan and even tries to overpower Sanju during the race.
On the other hand, Student of The Year’s Manav (Aditya Seal) believes in packing punches and resorting to violent behaviour to get to the Dignity Cup. Chatur Ramalingam (Omi Vaidya) from 3 Idiots, too, has no redemption. Just like the H4 boys, he resorts to pranks just before exams to distract the boys and hamper their scores. H4 blares out slogans to build pressure on their enemies, makes a girl call up a guy in the middle of the night to ruin his sleep a day before the match, while Chatur slips in porn magazines to his classmates’ rooms.
Raggie in Chhichhore (Prateik Babbar) is no saint. He is entitled, short-tempered and plays his own share of tricks. But when the defeat hits Anni hard, he urges his team and the college to encourage the boys. The character was made with a lot of promise but it was robbed of the screen time it deserved.
Pursue your dreams is the lesson 3 Idiots taught us, but Chhichhore teaches us to raise a toast to your failures too. As Anni says in the film, “I bought champagne and told Raghav ‘we will celebrate when you crack the exams’, but I never said what we will do if you don’t get through.” There are times when some “losers” look defeat in the face and flash big, warm smiles, winning hearts and forging lifelong bonds.
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