Movie review 'Chaarfutiya Chhokare': A soporific maze of a film

Published Sep 26, 2014, 11:32 pm IST
Updated Mar 31, 2019, 1:45 am IST

Director: Manish Harishankar

Cast: Soha Ali Khan, Harsh Mayar, Zakir Hussain, Seema Biswas, Mukesh Tiwari, Shankar Mandal, Aditya Jaiswal

Rating: One and a half star

'Chaarfutiya Chhokare' means "boys measuring four feet vertically", i.e. kids, not midgets. Writer-director-editor Manish Harishankar’s film is about three of them -- Awdesh (Harsh Mayar), Gorakh (Shankar Mandal) and Hari (Aditya Jaiswal). Though we are in lush, scenic Kohlapur, we are told that we are actually in Betia, Bihar, in a village called Birua. We are not here of our own accord. We are accompanying Miss Neha Malini, no sister of Hema Malini, to Dulari Devi School. She’s driving an SUV and has arrived from the US, via Delhi. She runs an NGO which has decided to gift the village's Dulari Devi School a spanking new building. The project costs Rs 2 crore and to ensure that there is no hanky-panky, Miss Malini (Soha Ali Khan) has come to the village to inspect the site and insist that school teachers and village elders form a trust.

She’s appalled by the state of the school, torn posters of Gandhiji and ilk, an illiterate school principal, child labour (school’s chaiwalla is a kid) and the teachers’ tendency to thrash kids when irritated. But she’s most perturbed by the three kids she met on the kachcha track to the school. They liked the chocolates and jackets she gave them, but refused to venture near the school. When she enquires about the boys, she’s told that they are murderous outlaws involved in four murders. 

This software engineer from the US, who has left everything to come here to start an NGO, is all very fake-fake. An attempt is made to encase this forgery in a ring of emotions, to forge a connect. So Miss Malini has a stilted conversation with her daddy -- a dead scene which establishes that her parents are separated and that she never got the love of both her parents at the same time. It’s always been on a time-share basis. Hai, so sad. 

But Miss Malini is a modern, smart woman, and deeply conscientious. She dwells on nothing except the school project she’s devoted to. And, of course, the three boys. When the contractor who is to build her school is killed by the boys and a new contractor is appointed, Lakhan (Zakir Hussain), the local daabang, she tells the boys that "murder is bad, you are good, don’t do bad things". They want her to pump up the jam.

But things seem awry. So Miss Malini begins her own investigations, from Awdesh’s house. She meets his mother, the brilliant Seema Biswas, who tells her that the local money-lender kidnapped and sold Awdesh’s young bride, and that’s where the murder trail began, four-five months ago. 

Malini now struts in and out of Patna’s sarkari offices, getting the education minister to clear this and cancel that. Given that she's in the land of the Rs 9.4 billion fodder scam, it couldn’t be her two-penny project that's making the minister give her the time of day. What it is, is never revealed.  

What is revealed is how focused she is. She goes off to find Awdesh's little bride, in the process unearthing a child trafficking syndicate which involves many Patna and Betia worthies.

More murders take place. And soon she finds herself in a distress situation. Will the gun-brandishing boys save her? Will all be okay?

'Chaarfutiya Chhokare' wastes the talents of Seema Biswas and Zakir Hussain and concentrates instead on Miss Soha Ali Khan, an extremely corny actress. She emotes well sometimes, but mostly looks like she’s in the wrong place in the wrong clothes with matching wedges. And worse, here she’s given to spewing gyaan. Instead of repeating what her illustrious ancestors from her mother’s side have said, Miss Khan should perhaps concentrate on the legacy from her father’s side. Pataudi Palace could do with Miss Spiffy's daily, hands-on care.

'Chaarfutiya Chhokare' is built around a mildly interesting germ of an idea, 12-13 year old boys taking to crime because of human trafficking. But this idea gets lost in its soporific maze of a story where silly characters run around but get nowhere. The film has a few nice frames and exactly two interesting moments, but they are spoilt by inept acting and lines that should never have been written. 

The film is billed as a thriller. But the only thing I found thrilling was the text that appears at the bottom of the screen when Manish Tiwari (who plays the local cop) is drinking. “Liquor Kills” is wagged at us. This is a moral sequel to “Smoking Kills”. I was thrilled to zone out of the film and imagine situations to which this harangue could be extended. Henceforth, every time someone offers ladoos to Ganeshji, “Fatty, Saturated Fat Kills” should appear below.

In chase sequences, "Speed Kills”. When someone shoots a bullet, “Firing Kills”, when someone is on fire, “Fire Kills”. When someone is walking on a busy street, or sitting for an unusually long time in a car, “Carbon Monoxide Kills”. And my favourite of the lot, when a heroine is in a chiffon saree in snow clad mountains, or hero shoots out of the sea (as Hrithik Roshan will do next week), or jumps from the top of a building, a plane, a train, or when SRK and other worthies appear in a Sajid/Farah Khan film, “Stupidity Kills”.










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