Chhichhore still
Chhichhore still Image Credit: Supplied

Bollywood films set in college campuses lean towards creating a shined-up and sanitised world populated with insanely rich kids (high-five director Karan Johar, high-priest of fashionable and flashy flicks). But Chhichhore isn’t one of them. The college buddy drama subverts those established tropes and gives us an authentic and heartwarming story.

Director Nitesh Tiwari of Dangal fame goes down and dirty as he brings to life a bunch of goofball engineering students who graduate in life with honours.

The movie oscillates between those bitter-sweet gloriously happy college days and their present day life filled with parenting challenges in their mid forties.

Sushant Singh Rajput, who plays the immensely lovable Anni, shines in his role as the gawky, unsure college student who grows up to be a doting father to a troubled teenage son.

His receding hairline wig — in the grown-up, adulting portions — might jar, but his performance is smooth and stirring. He’s charming as an impish bloke trying to impress that popular girl from college Maya (Shraddha Kapoor) and is equally in command as an overprotective father who is forced to grapple with a personal tragedy.

Varun Sharma, who plays Sexa (a nickname indicating his adoration for adult magazines), is a hoot, while Raj Thahir Bhasin as Derek, the brooding sporting champion, is spot on. The camaraderie between the young men as they discover love, life and all thing in-between is enjoyable. Every actor is perfectly cast in this film and you find yourself rooting for the underdogs by the end of the movie.

Chhichhore is a warts-and-mole approach to filmmaking. Tiwari doesn’t shy away from showing his actors in a less appealing way. The portions where there is a sudden re-union when a family tragedy strikes one of their own, the men aren’t oil paintings. As life takes a toll on them, their hair and their youthful bodies seem to be the biggest casualties. The directors have chosen actors who aren’t vain and their progression feels authentic.

Agreed, there may be times when you are itching to scrub the grimy men’s toilets and throw in some underpants as the boys love to cavort around in knickers and dunk each other in water, but their hearts are in the right places.

However, it’s the bromance among friends from college that shine. The actual romance between Shraddha Kapoor and Sushant Singh Rajput — two college sweethearts — lack steam and sizzle. Their rocky relationship as they reach their forties seem forced.

Chhichhore might remind you of iconic Bollywood blockbusters such as Aamir Khan’s seminal Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and Three Idiots — two iconic cultural references — but Chhichhore has its own distinct appeal. While the portions featuring the sporting competition feels stretched, it isn’t a deal breaker. Parteik Babbar as the token privileged rich bloke who bully and brandish Anni and gang as losers is serviceable in his part.

While you may question certain twists and the hasty re-union of college friends who had lost touch, the logistics and the lack of logic shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this film. Couched in humour and wit, there are certain life lessons to be learnt in Chhichhore. It isn’t the grade that matters ultimately in life, but your attitude towards living that counts.

Chhichhore graduates with flying colours on that front.

Film: Chhichhore

Director: Nitesh Tiwari

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Varun Sharma, Shraddha Kapoor, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Tushar Pandey, Naveen Polishetty

Stars: 3.5 out of 5