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'Chandu Champion' movie review: Could do with a champi

Updated on: 15 June,2024 07:23 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mayank Shekhar |

Sometimes a movie can be so laden with advertising visuals that after a point, you stop caring for what it’s about

'Chandu Champion' movie review: Could do with a champi

A still from chandu champion

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'Chandu Champion' movie review: Could do with a champi

Movie: Chandu Champion
Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Vijay Raaz
Director: Kabir Khan
Rating: 1.5/5

Chandu Champion is a brilliantly lit, mounted film, shot by Sudeep Chatterjee (from the Sanjay Leela Bhansali stable; but also cinematographer of Chak De India). If that’s the first, if not the only thing you notice about this picture; then, already, there’s an issue. 

That is, if you’re gawking in awe at the opponent boxer—falling in slow-motion inside the ring—or the transition shot, with the face of the young hero (past), morphing into the old hero (present). Or, indeed the silhouette of people atop a train, framed like a Warli painting!

Sometimes a movie can be so laden with advertising visuals that after a point, you stop caring for what it’s about. Because it isn’t about much, frankly. Except that the writers have discovered the story of a sportsperson, who picked up international prizes in boxing, later in swimming (at the Paralympics). 

This story was apparently also lost to the world. Until it came to light, and the said hero was awarded a Padma Shri by the government. The filmmakers are convinced we know nothing about one, Murlikant Petkar. They’re right. 

And so they humourlessly, monotonously set out to string together a series of events from the life and times of the said hero. 

Having sat through so many such simplistic, second-rate, sedative storytelling, especially to do with sport (from Mary Kom to Maidaan)—I’m now of the firm, albeit unfair opinion, that the ‘jeevani’/biography is not even art. 

Unless you can bring to the biopic, besides brevity, core conflicts and deep drama, outside of basic circumstances—often even unconcerned with the actual events in a person’s life; and that’s fine. How does one achieve that? Through a wider backdrop. And multiple characters, perhaps.

There is literally one in Chandu Champion, of course. Everyone surrounding him are there to serve his sporting feat. No knock on that. 

But what good is a script—from the hero stepping on to a train from rural Maharashtra, to just getting into the military—if its synopsis here will serve the same purpose as the film itself. 

Obviously, I’m not gonna summarise the movie for you. You’ll have to watch it to know. But you know what I mean. Contrast this with a similar story/biopic like, say, Paan Singh Tomar (2012). You felt transported into another world there. 

I didn’t even get to sense the ’60s here, which is when Chandu Champion is set. Several scripts that Kabir Khan has directed before—New York, 83, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, even Tubelight—haven’t suffered from the same defect. 

Of course, a lot of Paan Singh had to do with its lead actor, Irrfan, himself. Agree, such talents are rarest of the rare. Yet, if box office numbers are an indication, the star here, Kartik Aaryan, has more paying public as fans, than Irrfan did. 

Quite a few Insta reels out there of Kartik’s fan army, named Fanception, for you to figure this out. Which explains the heavy budgeting of this biopic. 

The centrepiece of which is the stunning physical transformation of Kartik into a zero-fat, six-pack giant in the boxing ring and swimming pool. 

It’s the type of physique that I suspect Murlikant Petkar, on whom the movie is based, wouldn’t have, perhaps, bothered blessing himself with!

Be that as it may, can’t help but admire the sorta time and dedication the lead actor has devoted to this picture. You wanna applaud this kinda effort. And you do. But all of this in the service of what? 

If you’re admiring the shot of Kartik’s smiling face, dipping in and out of water in the pool as he aces a competitive round—but you feel nothing at all; there’s an issue, no? 

This was my experience with this pic, throughout. Got a headache after a point. Could do with a champi after Chandu Champion.

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