‘Chal Chalein’ - preachy but honest take on kids under pressure (IANS Film Review; Rating:**)

August 8th, 2009 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Taare Zameen Par By Joginder Tuteja
Film: “Chal Chalein”; Director: Ujjwal Singh; Cast: Mithun Chakravorty, Kanwaljeet, Rati Agnihotri, Tanvi Hegde, Shilpa Shukla, Anoop Soni; Rating: **

Seldom has there been an instance in Bollywood when two films revolving around teenagers release at the same time. While “Teree Sang” looked at teen pregnancy, “Chal Chalein” challenges the parental pressure on children to be No.1 in studies.

In this context, first time director Ujjwal Singh raises a valid point. Should all children turn into engineers, doctors or bureaucrats? Or should they be free to explore opportunities in arts or literature as well? That’s the question asked by a bunch of students — six boys and a girl, most of whom have a tough time balancing school, coaching classes and pressure at home.

Since the film deals with a topical issue, it’s not an easy task to make it entertaining enough. Of course there are the likes of “Taare Zameen Par”, but such films come once in a decade perhaps.

But director Singh does try to tell an honest story despite the fact that “Chal Chalein” does appear to be an amateur attempt at times.

It’s a subject one can relate to. Kids being punished by their parents for not getting the highest marks in the class, teenagers being slapped for voicing their opinion, school principal not being available for his students, coaching classes pressure, comparison with other children pursuing admission to the IITs or aiming for the civil services — all of this is life-like and shows that Singh has his heart at the right place.

What mars the effort to some extent though is the near-documentary feel the film takes at numerous junctures, especially during the first half. It comes across as sermonising, which can be a put-off for audiences. It, however, takes a surprising turn at the interval when one of the students commits suicide.

In fact, the drama builds up from here as Mithun Chakravorty, who plays an advocate, takes it upon himself to fight a case against the father of the boy who committed suicide.

“Chal Chalein” gathers momentum as an entire bunch of students come together to file a case against their parents with a charge of undue pressure on them to study.

From the performances perspective, Mithun towers above all. Kanwaljeet and Rati Agnihotri do an average job. Among the teenagers, Tanvi Hegde does leave a mark.

At the box office though, the film has little chance. With near zero promotion and big competition in the form of “Love Aaj Kal”, which is still going strong, and new release “Agyaat”, “Chal Chalein” might just disappear unnoticed.

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