'Hello Charlie': No laughing matter

The story has its basics in the right place. What turns it into a disappointing dud is the inability to explore the possibilities the idea has to offer

'Hello Charlie': No laughing matter
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Biswadeep Ghosh

'Hello Charlie' could have been a laugh-a-minute gut-busting cinematic experience. It could have been. Helmed by Pankaj Saraswat and streaming on Amazon Prime Video, the film stars Aadar Jain in the central role along with Jackie Shroff, whose character of a wanted fraudster named MD Makwana who has cheated banks takes the story forward.

The film also has a fake gorilla, and a real gorilla, although it would have been absurd to expect an Andy Serkis being present as either of the two here.

Still, while gorillas in Hindi cinema offer a refreshing change, the insipid story with dull dialogues results in a film that will impress nobody.

Jain is Chirag Rastogi or ‘Charlie’, who comes to Mumbai to make money and ease the financial burden of his father (Darshan Jariwala). It is amply clear that he is a good-for-nothing lad destined to be a flop show in life.

Such is Charlie that he fails to deliver as a pizza delivery boy. He would eventually become a truck driver and get an assignment that he had never imagined he would.

Makwana is on the run. His girlfriend (Elnaaz Norouzi) comes up with a novel idea to help him dodge the cops. She persuades him to don a gorilla costume and go to Diu. Elsewhere, a real gorilla steps out of its cage after a plane in which it is being transported experiences a crash. So, there are two gorillas in the plot, and a lot of madness seems inevitable.

The story has its basics in the right place. What turns it into a disappointing dud is the inability to explore the possibilities the idea has to offer. As moments go by and one sequence follows the other, the viewer is made to wonder why so few moments generate giggles when the idea had the potential to make us laugh until we fell off our seats.

Similarly, the acting ranges from being barely watchable to outright bad. Jain, the exception, manages to rise above the bad script on a few occasions, coming up with expressions and body language that shows he has the potential to do much better if films with good writing come his way. Jackie, the veteran, sleepwalks through his role. He has a fixed set of expressions, and his dialogue delivery has nothing to write home about either. Other actors come and go, playing their parts without much visible enthusiasm, with Rajpal Yadav as a ranger the biggest disappointment of the film.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been disastrous for humankind. OTT platforms have been delivering personal entertainment for people who need to stay indoors to the extent possible. These platforms must ensure that they give consistently good content so that they can have loyal long-term viewership who will continue to subscribe after the old normal makes a return.

Streaming new films like Hello Charlie can dissuade viewers in the long run. OTT platforms must realise that as they take their business forward in such unusual times.

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