It?s one filmi formula that has traditionally been failsafe. Herd a bunch of frisky and fancy-free kids together, throw them into an emotional whirligig that pushes them to raise the banner of revolt against insensitive adults and let the ensuing tussle do the rest. It makes for good, unadulterated fun.
Right up your street? Then Chillar Party is a must-watch for you. It squeezes in a quiet message even as it portrays the world purely from the gawky-eyed point of view of children. The film strikes a perfect balance between the two poles of the script. Well, almost.
Written and directed by the duo of Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari and bankrolled by UTV Spotboy, Chillar Party got superstar Salman Khan so excited that he came on board as co-producer well after the film had got off the starting blocks. Great judgment ? Chillar Party is indeed a film worth backing every which way.
It moves from the light-hearted to the thought-provoking and from the rib-tickling to the tear-jerking without losing its equilibrium.
As Chillar Party opens, we are introduced one by one to the feisty gang of innocents around whom the plot revolves. It is probably as adorable a gallery of characters as any you will ever encounter in a Bollywood movie.
The child actors are outright naturals. Don?t be surprised if many of these names crop up on film credits for years to come.
The Chillar Party boys live in Chandan Nagar colony, a residential complex that is shaken up somewhat when Fatka, a spunky boy who washes cars for a living, arrives in their midst with a canine companion, Bhidu.
Fatka and his dog are outsiders in more ways than one ? they belong to the wrong side of the social divide ? but after the initial run-ins with the boys of Chandan Nagar, he and his pooch are accepted as an integral part of the chillar party.
But, especially for the dog, life isn?t quite as simple as it might seem to these little pranksters: a mean-minded politician decides that the locality is in need of being swept clean of stray mutts and Bhidu is instantly targeted. The boys swing into action and launch a ?save Bhidu? battle in the face of grave odds.
This is a confrontation in the classic good-pitted-against-evil mould, and it plays out to great effect on different levels: children versus adults, self-seekers versus do-gooders and, above all, the uplifting power of innocence and genuine emotion up against the vitiating force of corrosive cynicism.
If Chillar Party works for the most part as an entertainer, it is primarily because it manages to keep a tight leash on its narrative flow and the antics of the children. Simplicity has its uses and if you know exactly how to milk it to your advantage, you?ve got a winner on your hands.
Is Chillar Party, then, a perfect children?s film? Saying that would be a bit of a stretch. The characters are less nuanced individuals than recognisable types, etched out and christened on the basis of their defining traits.
So what we have is a boy called Second Hand who struts around in borrowed clothes and another (he answers to the name of Shaolin) that dreams of being a martial arts movie star a la Jackie Chan. A know-all ? he is named Encyclopaedia ? has his exact opposite in the gang?s incorrigible simpleton, Mottu alias Silencer. In the world according to Chillar Party, boys will be boys!
Through the entire first half, the writer-director duo holds the proceedings at a level that is completely in sync with the unpretentious spirit of the film. In the run-up to the climax, however, the film comes precariously close to tying itself up in knots as the child-like aura it builds up begins to teeter on the edge of childishness. Mercifully, it stays on its feet and doesn?t topple over. For that alone the film deserves at least three stars.