Charlie, Chaddha And The Dynamics Of Cinema

by Harsha Bhat - Sep 9, 2022 07:50 PM +05:30 IST
Charlie, Chaddha And The Dynamics Of Cinema Laal Singh Chaddha and 777 Charlie
  • Comparing a Bollywood behemoth with a recent Kannada release shows us that at the end of the day, a film runs on content, clarity and connect.

National Cinema Day will be celebrated across the country on 16 September. And in a bid to say ‘thank you to moviegoers who enabled the successful reopening of cinemas post the pandemic’ the Multiplex Association of India has announced a pan India price of Rs 75.

India’s domestic film industry, has reportedly, seen the sharpest recoveries in the film exhibition, as per the release. But the real reason for this massive discounted price, at venues that else even charge 10 times the price for certain class of tickets, seems to be to get those who have now settled into the comfort of their couches thanks to OTT.

While the steep price of tickets at multiplex matched with the combo of snacks would cost a family of four almost four times the annual subscription offered by an OTT platform, the real cause is the lack of content that audiences would like to watch on a mammoth screen. Simply put—the cinematic experience.

The makers, especially of the ‘self-proclaimed’ largest movie industry that is Bollywood, seem to have forgotten that content is, was and will always be king backed of course by good marketing.

And while the biggest testimony to this remark is the success of the KGF series, the much lesser hyperbolic and steady indicator is the success of Kannada cinema‘s recent output that has earned good revenue, increasingly wider audience, and critical acclaim and applause.

A case in point being Rakshit Shetty’s 777 Charlie. Directed by Kiranraj K, starring Rakshit Shetty, the film hit theatres worldwide on 10 June.

And three months since its release, it is releasing a special song tomorrow ‘to rekindle your hearts with emotions’, says the team’s tweet. For it has won hearts across the world, crossing over 75 days in cinema as well as ‘living room audiences’ since its release on Voot on July 29.

There is no one who walked out of this ’dog-man bonding’ tale without moistened eyes, and that includes Karnataka‘s CM Basavaraj Bommai, who wears his love for his pets on his sleeve.

Contrast this with the recent Hindi dud of a film that tanked for multiple reasons, Lal Singh Chaddha, and what emerges is a clear formula for winning audiences’ mindspace - content, clarity and connect are key to good storytelling.

Comparing Lal Singh Chaddha and Charlie: both adventure-comedy-drama genre. Both are overly senti-mental, both tales of some form of a shortcoming (autism in one and an anti-social behaviour rooted in childhood trauma in the other) and the inner battle of coping with what it brings, both a tale of a journey being undertaken towards an emotionally driven goal.

In all, both tales that should provide a ‘painful yet positive’ ending that leaves an after-taste of hope and goodness.

But all controversies apart, the Aamir Khan-starrer remake of Forrest Gump failed because it didn't have its heart in the right place, while 777 Charlie did.

Not like it is a tale never told, but it is honest. It's wreckless rude protagonist Dharma is real, unlike Chaddha, whose portrayal of a disorder seems more parody than nuance and surely isn't what audiences deserve in 2022.

Dharma isn't trying too hard to be Dharma, while Chaddha is and the acting comes across as a distorted blend of Ishan Awasthi-meets-PK.

Dharma is real - he has some mendicants singing on his truck-top journey in the Kashmir valley. But he isn't trying too hard to be secular. The Tibetan healer is there so is a temple where Charlie’s journey almost comes to an end. But none of them have been packed to make a needless point.

The sympathy and the rage, the issues and the solutions are all real, not forced; especially not by a sense of appropriateness dictated by certain intellectual elitism and academic virtue signalling.

Alfred Hitchcock said, “to make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script”. Clarity and connect are what make an audience find sense in cinema, even in the most nonsensical or fantasy pieces of writing.

Sadly, these are truths that many of our Hindi cine writers have forgotten and ’Bollywood stars’ have conveniently ignored.

Which is also why, Chaddha tanked while Charlie went on to earn Rs 100 crore globally to become the fifth highest grossing Kannada film at release.

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