Hello Charlie Review : A frustrating road movie that struggles to be a comedy

STORY: Chirag Rastogi aka Charlie (Aadar Jain) lands in Mumbai from Indore without a concrete plan. His late father was in debt, so the unskilled enthu chop must find a way to repay the family loan. As a quick fix, accept the task of bringing a gorilla from Mumbai to Diu. Money is good, but there is a catch.

REVISION: The animal in question is actually a fugitive dressed in a gorilla suit: industrialist Makwana (Jackie Shroff). After tricking several banks, the banana hating scammer wants to secretly flee the country, hence the ‘smart idea’. Obviously things don’t go according to plan as he mixes in with a real circus gorilla on the loose, following a random plane crash. Does Makwana manage to escape or not?

Screenwriter and director Pankaj Saraswat tries to present a clean, family-friendly, old-school comedy. What you do get, though, is a series of little fun, outdated, and little fun events that are less entertaining and more annoying. Charlie’s job hunting antics like crazy still manages to keep you moderately interested, but once the gorilla trail starts, it all goes downhill. Misspelled lines like “You don’t like banana, Mr. Makwana?” don’t help either.

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 rolls her eyes inside the furry suit. 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 movie is headed from the beginning, and yet you hope it can improve. Sadly, this is not the case and it remains a painful cliche.

Here’s the thing about humor: you can’t force it. Clever writing and comic timing cannot be compromised in a comedy. In the absence of either, if the other element is strong, it can still camouflage a predictable plot. Indra Kumar’s Dhamaal, Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal, and Anees Bazmee’s No Entry didn’t have unique stories per se, but the comedy of errors was noted for its spontaneous execution. The performances had the ability to elevate an ordinary story and make the silliness sound like fun. Vinay Apte-Arshad Warsi’s ‘car scene’ in Dhamaal, for example, is not spectacular in terms of ideas, but the execution made it memorable. Two characters bouncing off each other are absolutely essential in situational comedies. An overly excited Aadar and a disinterested Shroff (rightly so) are not the leads you support.

Last but not least, more than Jackie, if anyone needs to remove their mask, it’s Aadar. The actor is pleasing to the eye and can do much better if he ditch his Ranbir Kapoor hangover. The voice, gestures and facial expressions are similar to his cousin’s and even if they are unintentional, they are not going to his favor. Elnaaz Norouzi is decent in her short role. To get to the point about the movie, it’s time for Bollywood to stop messing around.

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