Synopsis – Charlie a young simpleton, currently a day dreaming pizza delivery boy, who later finds himself driving a truck to deliver a gorilla to the jetty at Porbandar. What he does not know is that inside the gorilla is actually a disguised Business Tycoon, Makwana. (ref to Vijay Malya, Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi) who is on escape after a scam.
My Take – While comedy franchises like Housefull, Dhamaal and Golmaal are generally raked by scathing criticism for their inane plots and absurd humor, studios continue to pour capital into the sub-genre which has been subtitled as ‘mindless comedy’, mainly as the audience continue to lap such films turning them into money-spinners.
Personally I understand the success behind of a few these films as they, despite the lack of a praise worthy plot, execute their comedy of errors with utmost spontaneity with talents performers at the helm, making even the silliest sequences feel hilarious, hereby camouflaging their negative elements.
Right from its first teaser, Excel Entertainment‘s latest Amazon Prime release too seemed to be aiming for a similar trajectory, with a ridiculous plot based on an idea by Pankaj Advani, the late writer-director of Sankat City (2009) and co-writer of the 1993 classic, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, which sees a Gorilla in a co-lead role, wrapped around an old school fun comedy presentation from director Pankaj Saraswat. Unfortunately, the end result is way less entertaining than anyone would have expected it to be. While director Saraswat is clear, right from the first frame, that the proceedings and the screenplay are not supposed to be taken seriously, it’s the dullness of the film that is actually baffling.
With a runtime of 102 minutes, the screenplay is a tad repetitive as director Saraswat tries to extract as much as humor possible from the wafer thin plot. Moreover, while some of the silly gags are actually funny, they come in short and with extended gaps in between them. Without a doubt, a little more crisp writing could have upped the entertainment quotient by several notches. Sure, while kids might enjoy some of the gorilla antics, the bumbling fools and the ridiculous twists, adults might find it hard to accept this attempt at comedy.
The story follows Chirag Rastogi aka Charlie (Aadar Jain), a youngster who comes to Mumbai to try his luck and unburden himself with a loan his late father had taken. However, it takes longer than as anticipated as Charlie’s dimwitted and bumbling nature means he ends up losing jobs regularly and causing accidents. One situation caused by Charlie leads to the escape of MD Makhwana (Jackie Shroff), a business tycoon and colorful playboy, who was apprehended after scamming a couple of banks was trying to flee the country.
With all his assets seized and transport systems being monitored by the authorities, Makhwana seeks the help of Mona (Elnaaz Norouzi), his model girlfriend, who suggests him to disguise as a circus gorilla named Toto so she can smuggle him from Diu out to Dubai. As luck would have it, she ends up hiring Charlie for the transport job, who is in custody of the truck owned by his irked uncle (Darshan Jariwala), who has just returned to his village, and has specifically asked Charlie to not drive the truck.
Meanwhile, a real gorilla who was to be transported to a zoo, escapes after the plane carrying him crashes in the jungle. As Charlie sets out to transport Toto to Diu, unaware of his identity, a series of misadventures take place when he bumps into a scheming circus owner Priyesh Patel (Girish Kulkarni), a circus dancer Padma (Sholakka Pandit), a forest ranger Ranger Solee Topi (Rajpal Yadav) and a veterinary doctor Dr Gantra (Bharat Ganeshpure).
There are very few Bollywood films that do justice when it comes to a script that involves animals, this one isn’t one of them. The film just moves on from one slapstick comic scene to another, hitting some, missing most.
Even with all the predictability, Charlie and Makwana’s grueling road trip from Mumbai to Diu in a truck might have been a decent watch, if there had been some awkward chemistry or camaraderie between the two. All you see is that Charlie has verbal diarrhea and Makwana rejecting bananas, rolling his eyes inside the gorilla suit as Charlie tries hard to entertain with his silly antics.
Along the way they face multiple obstacles and meet various forgettable characters who stretch the story and test your patience. You know in which direction the film is headed from the beginning, and yet you hope it can improve. Sadly, this is not the case and it remains a painful cliche.
The road trip re-routes multiple times and arrives finally at the same old climax scene where multiple characters face off each other and break into a fight. The film’s writing, screenplay and story is not meant for adults. Promoted as an adventurous comedy, the film lacks adventure and definitely lacks a lot of comedy.
Performance wise, Aadar Jain joins promise in his second venture, after making his Bollywood debut with director Habib Faisal‘s YRF musical drama film Qaidi Band in 2017. However, he still needs to work on his delivery and mannerisms as he bears an uncanny resemblance to his cousin, Ranbir Kapoor, especially his role in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009). Jackie Shroff‘s swag is on point, yet it feels a little sad to see the veteran actor pulled down to such kind of a role.
Debutante Shhloka Pandit, is alright and her role too brief to make an impact, although, Elnaaz Norouzi has a better role and provides a decent performance. In other roles, Girish Kulkarni, Darshan Jariwala, Rajpal Yadav, Siddhant Kapoor and Bharat Ganeshpure are alright. On the whole, ‘Hello Charlie’ is an outdated and unfunny comedy which fails to provide the promised entertainment.
Directed – Pankaj Saraswat
Rated – NR
Run Time – 106 minutes