‘Chamak’ review: A terribly unfunny lesson on how not to portray modern relationships

Most of the film feels as if it’s written by a 1950s man who’s only vaguely aware of ‘millennials’ but has no sense of what their lives are like.
‘Chamak’ review: A terribly unfunny lesson on how not to portray modern relationships
‘Chamak’ review: A terribly unfunny lesson on how not to portray modern relationships
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There are films you love, and films you hate. But few films can push you into the kind of incredulous silence that Chamak, starring Ganesh and Rashmika Mandanna, leaves you with.

After all, it takes a special kind of effort to craft a film so devoid of logic, rationality and narrative sense.

For the record, here’s how the ‘plot’ of the film unfolds: Khush (Golden Star Ganesh), a party-hearty gynaecologist, has no interest in quitting bachelorhood, but succumbs to marriage because of family pressure. When they first meet, both Khush and Khushi (Rashmika) are convinced that the other is a picture of innocence and propriety. It soon turns out that they’ve both lied, and that both are given to hard partying lifestyles that for some inexplicable reason can’t be accommodated together.

At this point, reasonable adults would sit down to talk it out. Instead our star couple jump straight to divorce. But not wanting to take responsibility for their own actions, they instead accuse two other relatives of unwanted sexual advances towards them, and use that pretext to break up the marriage. This is just the start of a long, mind-numbing journey into the life of a couple who could easily win a UNESCO award for most messed up couple of the year.

At most points, Chamak’s script feels as if it was written by a 1950s man who has vaguely heard of people called ‘millennials’, and heard that they are whimsical, unconventional, love to party and tech-obsessed, but has no real clue what they are really like. Nothing else can explain such bizarre comic devices as a social-media obsessed family that has converted their offline lives into a version of Facebook. So guests are asked to login instead of coming in, invited to write on actual walls, and the film’s audience is left desperately looking for the reset button.

Underneath all this is supposedly modern frivolity, there’s a boatload of misogyny, homophobia and a lot else thrown at the audience. Lines about how every man’s life is a downhill ride after marriage, for instance, are the least objectionable of the lot. The comedy portions featuring Sadhu Kokila, in particular, reek of crassness. It’s hard to believe that Chamak comes from the same director who gave us the much more sensibly funny Operation Alamelamma.

In many places, the holidays from logic go to truly absurd lengths. Through the film, for instance, Khush regularly drives after drinking entire bars dry. At the climax of the film, he wrecks his car, hitches a joy ride on an ambulance, and then even performs surgery while being completely intoxicated. Khushi comes across as similarly self-obsessed and irresponsible, and you’re left wondering why you should like and root for these characters.

It comes as no surprise then that Ganesh and Rashmika often look like they’re unsure of what they’re doing in the film, inhabiting such horribly written characters. So their performances are mostly awkward, untimely and exaggerated.

The film is not a comprehensively unmitigated disaster, however. There are roughly around half-a-dozen scenes where the location and cinematography catch your eye. Whether you want to sit through so much bizarreness for just that, is another question altogether.

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