Irrfan Khan, Sanath Menon, Rohan Grover, Naman Jain, Aarav Khanna, Vishesh Tiwari, Chinmai Chandranshuh, Vedant Desai, Divji Handa, Sherya Sharma
- Sonia Chopra
Gone are the days when Hindi films were accused of not portraying children accurately - they were either unbearably saccharine or smart-alecky - both hyperbolic representations. But off late, Bollywood has displayed a rare sensitivity towards children's films.
Taare Zameen Par established the trend. With Stanley Ka Dabba and now Chillar Party, this is truly the year of the children's film. Chillar Party, is equally nuts about dogs, as is evident from the fawning opening shot of a stunning brown dog (in slow-mo) with the Super -'For the Love of Dog'.
Chandan Nagar Colony: The secretary has just hired a boy (Irrfan Khan) as the new car washer. The boy Fatka and his companion -a black-and-white pariah- build their home in a deserted, run-down car. The building kids, a thick bunch that calls themselves Chillar Party, are upset at the new entrants. They were already upset with the neighborhood Pomeranian doing its daily deed on their playground. And now another dog!
This happening was predicted by one of their friends Lucky they fondly call Panauti. This cute Sardar kid (an always-present cliche in kids' films) innocuously makes statements and the opposite is sure to come true. Hence the nickname. There are others -Silencer for the eternally quiet bespectacled child, Aflatoon for the kid whose life revolves around tennis, karate and a hundred other activities his parents have forced him into, and finally their leader Encyclopedia.
Chillar Party is now in direct war with Fatka and Bhidu (the dog). In all their innocence, Fatka is also a source of envy as he doesn't have to go to school. But after a particularly extreme step, Chillar Party concedes and they become allies. Cut to a politician Mr. Bhide inaugurating the society's playground. His assistant gets into a scuffle with Fatka and Bhidu steps in to save his little master. Bhide sees the opportunity to make this and the city's stray dogs into a political issue.
So the stray dog menace (as everyone loves to call the issue) becomes a political game with our adorable, unknowing pooch in the centre of the controversy. The issue gains steam and this is only the beginning of the Bhidu VS. Bhide battle that travels from the building compound to the streets.
Storytelling by co-directors-writers-lyricists Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari is first-rate. They make you deeply connect with the characters (including scene-stealer Bhidu the dog) and their cause -- see if you eyes don't moisten towards the end.
On the downside are a few aspects -absence of girls in all this masti is glaring. Does Chandan Nagar Colony only birth kids of one gender? Then towards the second-half the kids' dialogues get a bit too smart for their age-an error one willingly forgives as the goings-on are so absorbing and entertaining!
The cast is exemplary -each child actor impresses you with their spontaneous and uninhibited performance. Irrfan Khan, Sanath Menon, Rohan Grover, Naman Jain, Aarav Khanna, Vishesh Tiwari, Chinmai Chandranshuh, Vedant Desai, Divji Handa, Shreya Sharma -take a bow!
The songs have lyrics likening children to "jalebiyon ke tukde". What a wonderful, apt metaphor. The film's great too, don't miss!
Verdict: 4 Stars!