‘Chi La Sow’ review: This charming Rahul Ravindran film is much more than a rom-com

Starring Sushant and Ruhani Sharma, this is a clean movie that appeals to urban sensibilities, with a story panning out across one night.
‘Chi La Sow’ review: This charming Rahul Ravindran film is much more than a rom-com
‘Chi La Sow’ review: This charming Rahul Ravindran film is much more than a rom-com
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Rahul Ravindran is known to many as a suave, well-spoken, grounded actor. But with Chi La Sow he has shown he is as capable with the pen or behind the clapboard. He has managed to demonstrate how one can make a clean movie, without a lot of fanfare and jazz, to appeal to urban sensibilities, with a story panning out across one night – Before Sunrise style – relying largely on dialogue and relentless character development.

The director/writer has used as his protagonist 27-year old Arjun (Sushant), whose most crystal clear opinion is about his need for a sports car. Dead set against marriage, he is perpetually harassed by his parents, albeit in a cute way. However, he is tricked into meeting a girl by his mom and a movie that was only funny until then because of Arjun’s travails in escaping potential brides explodes into new layers.

Anjali (Ruhani Sharma) is a woman used to being rejected by ‘bridegroom’s families’ for reasons not alien to a lot of Indian women forced into arranged marriages. That subtle satire aside, Anjali is an independent woman who has taken care of her family since her dad’s demise. Her mom suffers from bipolar disorder and the latter’s vulnerable mental condition is what pushes her into pursuing marriage. Arjun and Anjali go through a series of events during the duration of one night, as they get to know more about each other and eventually realise things about themselves which they had suppressed for long.

Chi La Sow is a fresh digression from the cliched chauvinistic tropes of our cinema. Whether it is Anjali protecting herself from a molester while Arjun looks for help, or a woman delivering milk, the movie doesn’t leave a single opportunity to show society a mirror.

In a very subtle way, it also drives home an interesting point that while many a woman is being ‘rated’ by bridegrooms and their families alike, it is often the woman who can turn a confused boy into a guy capable of taking mature decisions. Another subtle layer of the story is the delicate sub-plot of dependencies and how relationship phobia stems from people’s fear of becoming attached to or dependent on the other.

With just two good songs interwoven at the right time, brilliant comedic interventions aced by a vintage Vennela Kishore (Rahul’s real-life buddy as well) and sharp dialogues, that without becoming didactic deliver many an emotional thought, the movie is an experience as soothing as a summer breeze for anyone who has given relationships sensible thought. It is unfair to call it just a rom-com or a romantic drama. It is a mix of plenty more things.

It is hard to see how the movie – which relies so heavily on dialogue and minor trigger incidents predominantly to take the audience through various levels of a character – could have charmed viewers without good actors. Sushant and Ruhani, although not seasoned actors, bring with them an innocence that rarely breaks the spell. Their chemistry carries the movie, not in an overbearing look-at-us way, but in a charming if-not-this-how-else way.

One could almost see, thanks to minimalistic, do-just-about-the-needful cinematography, how the script is just a conversation inside Rahul’s head – between him and the audience that is used to clichés and ready to argue about our cinema and our culture.

From being unable to control his hunger even as Anjali’s mom has to be taken to hospital, to stupidly offering a cop all the money he has for a mistake he didn’t commit, Sushant’s Arjun is real and natural. So is Anjali, her desires, conflicts and vulnerabilities all turning into her strengths. It is only justified that the guy gets the girl only when he realises all of this.

All in all, Chi La Sow is a movie that subtly underlines the point that it is not here to cater to audiences who want noise, action, overaction. It doesn’t even attempt to do it. It is one of those Linklater-style movies that engage the sensitivity of a thinking audience and rewards them.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film’s producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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