Chhello Divas

For someone who has lived in Gujarat all his life, I have not watched too many Gujarati films. This is probably because for a very long time Gujarati films lived in a parallel universe where the heroines dressed in gravity-defying ‘chania cholis’ and heroes clad in ‘kedios’ started every song with a “heeeyyyyy”. I’m sure that many Gujaratis found some guilty pleasure in watching these, but I could never identify with them. Then a few years back, a new breed of Gujarati film makers stumbled upon a new voice – that of an urban Gujarati youth. The quality of films made since then has been quite refreshing and, if box office records are to be believed, they’ve been successful as well.

One of the complaints that I’ve had with new-age Gujarati films has been that they try too hard to be a Hindi film with regional dialogues. Some of them like Bey Yaar have even ‘borrowed’ plot lines from ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ quite generously. I am happy to report that ‘Chhello Divas’ (Last Day), directed by Krishnadev Yagnik, is not one such film.

chhellodivas_team

Chhello Divas has been consistently (and emphatically) promoted for what it is – an urban Gujarati film about 8 college students who are about to embark into the ‘real world’. The characterisation, the plot devices and the dialogues; everything is quintessentially urban and Gujarati.

Although the synopsis states that this is a story of 8 friends, the actual film revolves more around the characters of Nick (Yash Soni), Vicky (Malhar Thakkar), Pooja (Janki Bodiwala), Loy (Vadodara boy Mitra Gadhvi) and Nisha (Kinjal Rajpriya). The storytelling is Saathiya-esque (or should I say, Alaipayuthey-esque): a series of flashbacks strung together by a grim present set in a hospital waiting room. The forward-backward mode didn’t quite work for me. The film would have been pretty much the same had it been a linear storyline. The flashbacks are also more of standalone comedy tracks that don’t necessarily merge into one another all the time. Some of these tracks fall flat on their face, some start off as funny but get stretched a tad too long. But a sizeable majority of the sequences are genuinely funny and laugh-inducing. This alone is worth the admission (which is cheaper because being a Gujarati film, Chhello Divas is tax-free).

Yash Soni is quite decent as the leading man and gets some of the expressions bang on. Malhar Thakkar as Vicky is a loose cannon. Sometimes he fires a joke correctly but he misses so often that it makes the on-target ones seem like flukes. Mitra Gadhvi is quite nice as Loy and emotes a lot more with his body language than the rest of the cast, Janki as Pooja makes a cute debut but almost gets her thunder stolen by Kinjal who makes a cracker of an appearance mid-way through the film. A special word of mention should go to the character of canteen boy Naresh played by Mayur Chauhan who gets a gem of a sequence towards the end and makes the most of it.

The production values are quite nice thanks to the confidence reposed by the film’s producers on a first-time director and cast. But the editing could have been a little tighter. On some occasions, I felt that the director and the editor got a little too enamoured by the characters and forgot to cut the scenes where they should have. But hey! As long as I am laughing consistently throughout the movie and come out of the auditorium with a smile, these are small quibbles that I can easily live with.

All in all, Chhello Divas is definitely a good one-time watch that will remind you of some instances from your own college days, especially if you did it in Gujarat. I believe that Gujarati films are finally finding their foothold and the least that we can do as an audience, is give them a fair chance.

Verdict: 7/10

Voluntary Disclosure: One of the producers of the film, Sharad Patel from ESSPEE Group, is a dear friend and I watched the movie on a complementary ticket. All efforts have still been made to maintain objectivity.

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