Sunday, September 28, 2014


Release date:
September 26, 2014
Manish Harishankar


Soha Ali Khan, Zakir Hussain, Harsh Mayar, Seema Biswas, Mukesh Tiwari

The road to cinematic hell is paved with good intentions, poor production values and mediocre writing. Chaarfutiya Chhokare is meant to be an expose on child sex trafficking and the vulnerability of juveniles at the hands of veteran gangsters. At a time when India’s juvenile justice system is being widely debated in the national media, this could have been an important catalyst for further discussions. However, it is so poorly conceived and so tackily executed, that far from generating a debate on the issues at hand, the film does not even merit a detailed review.

Soha Ali Khan plays Neha Malini, an NGO activist who wants to set up a school in a remote area in Bihar. Once there, she meets the deadly local criminal Lakkhan who dominates everyone and everything in that largely impoverished community. She also comes up against three little boys – the chaarfutiya chhokare of the title – who are being used as shooters by Lakkhan.

If you have friends in the NGO sector, you will know that those working in social milieus different from their own tend to make an effort to blend in with the crowd. In the case of women workers, that usually translates into wearing unobtrusive Indian clothes in a rural area such as this one. Yet here, Neha goes about her mission while togged out in stylishly casual Westernwear and driving a flashy SUV on deserted roads.

Let’s grant the film this concession: perhaps she is naïve and no one advised her to do otherwise. What though excuses Chaarfutiya Chhokare’s terrible presentation and lacklustre direction? What excuses a lazy screenplay in which, of the three gun-toting central characters, we get to know only one kid called Avdesh, while the other two hang around him as opinionless sidekicks without expressions or dialogues? In the middle of all this, the clarity in sound design comes as an unexpected plus in a film that is sub-par in every other technical department.

Soha is not the only known name in the cast. The usually reliable Zakir Hussain plays Lakkhan with an accent that sounds like it might be coming from the border of West Bengal and Bihar. Nothing wrong with that except that it’s inexplicable because it’s so vastly different from the way the rest of the village, including his own gang, speaks.

There are three other wonderful actors in this film, doing their best but rendered helpless by the pathetic quality that threatens to drown them: Seema Biswas playing Avdesh’s mother, Mukesh Tiwari as a slimy policeman and Harsh Mayar who plays Avdesh. Mayar is the remarkable child actor who won a National Award for his sparkling performance in I Am Kalam, which was released in theatres in 2011. It’s worrisome that just three years after he earned the national spotlight, he finds himself in a production so unworthy of his charisma and talent.

More worrisome is the fact that Chaarfutiya Chhokare thinks it can get away with making a casual mention of child marriage without even hinting at its own position on the matter. This is not a film. It’s a non-film.

Rating (out of five stars): -10 stars

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
119 minutes

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