“Chhichhore” opens with a group of men running to playfully douse each other with water in what is supposed to be an initiation ritual of sorts. The men look too old to be college students, and the scene, set in a run-down college hostel, is not pretty to look at – but director Nitesh Tiwari manages to capture their camaraderie.
The trouble begins when Tiwari’s characters grow older. The film’s energy dips palpably in the next scene, set 20 years later. We meet Annirudh, or Anni, a balding Sushant Singh Rajput, as he talks to his teenage son about the pressure of academics. When his son attempts suicide, Anni questions everything about life.
As his son lies bruised and unconscious in his hospital bed, Anni tries to regale him with tales about his college days. His friends fly in from different parts of the world, hoping their reunion will help give the boy the strength to live.
In flashbacks, we meet the film’s funniest character – “Sexa” (Varun Thakur), named after his porn obsession. Anni’s other friends have equally interesting nicknames (we never find out their real ones). The mollycoddled friend who calls his mother every day is named “Mummy”, while a foul-mouthed friend is christened “Acid” (Varun Polishetty).
At 146 minutes, “Chhichhore” is too long and patchy. It has moments of brilliance – especially in the irreverent dialogue and bawdy college scenes, but that isn’t enough. To complicate matters, the makers throw in a sports competition, a romance between Anni and the college hottie Maya (Shraddha Kapoor), and a mean rival in the form of Raggie (Pratiek Babbar).
Sharma and Rajput are wonderful, and have some of the best lines in the film, while Kapoor gets little to work with.
Nostalgia is the best thing about “Chhichhore”. Director Nitesh Tiwari and co-writers Piyush Gupta and Nikhil Malhotra seem to have genuine affection for the film’s flashback scenes, infusing them with enough detail, conversational dialogue and humor for them to shine. When the film cuts to the present, the characters who seemed likeable a few scenes ago turn insipid and boring.
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(Editing by Blassy Boben and Robert MacMillan)