BOTTOM LINE: Jitendra Kumar Is The Redeeming Factor Of This Quirky Comedy
Skin N Swear – Zero skin show, a few colloquial cuss words
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Billu, aka Prem Kumar Yadav (Jitendra Kumar), is a shy, introverted young man living in Lormi, a small town in Chhatisgarh. The males of his family have a long history of working in the forest department of the district. His father (Yogendra Tikku) too is an assistant to the DFO, Divisional Forest Officer. Rather than follow tradition, Billu chucks his forest department job to open a paan shop on the outskirts of town. He names his shop, ‘Chaman Bahar’, which incidentally, is a type of paan. But due to the shifting of the town municipal limits, his shop is saddled with a no-man’s zone for location, and negligible footfall and sales. Luck, however, turns in his favour when a government employee and his family move into the house opposite the shop. Young men start flocking to the area to ogle the pretty and smart daughter of the family, Rinku (Ritika Badiani). Billu’s shop becomes their preferred ‘adda’ and business booms, as dozens of guys hang out all day at ‘Chaman Bahar’ for a glimpse of the girl. These include the biggies of the town, Aashu Bhaiya (Ashwini Kumar) and Shila Bhaiya (Alam Khan). Despite raking in the profits, Billu resents it all, as he too falls for the girl, hook, line and sinker. His daydreaming fuels his love, but soon, reality brings Billu crashing down to earth.
Jitendra Kumar is the linchpin of the movie, and rightly so. He owns the role like the boss of such roles that he is. Billu’s small town naivete and pathos-filled helplessness come alive effortlessly and flawlessly in Kumar’s portrayal of the role. He deploys his wiry physicality excellently, to create the perfect prototype of the less-educated, small-town romeo. Jitendra Kumar hits nary a single discordant note as the timid, pathetic Billu, proving yet again the versatility and range of his acting skills. Ritika Badiani only has to look pretty in the movie, which she does. Yogendra Tikku, Alam Khan, Bhuvan Arora, Ashwini Kumar and Dhirendra Tiwari are perfectly suited to their roles.
Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann, writer-director of Chaman Bahar, has woven a vivid tapestry of small town life in his quirky comedy. The dialogues are peppered with hilarious colloquialisms that give the narrative a unique flavour — something like what we’ve seen in recent Ayushmann Khurrana films.
Sample this – Billu tells his father, “Bhalu seal bhang kar deta hai”, which translates as, “Bears are known to destroy the virginity of girls”. That’s the reason for his irrational fear of bears, and his fear of bears is his reason for chucking the cosy forest department job. Another quirk we notice is that everyone addresses everyone else as Daddy – quite like how big city guys call each other dude, may be. So there’s a lot of “Aur Daddy, Kya chal raha hai bey”, to which the other guy replies, “Kucch nahi bey, tu bata Daddy”. It’s a singularly unique way of talking, one we’ve never come across in any content based in the Hindi heartland until now. There are a whole lot of similar quirky phrases and dialogues that litter the movie’s narrative, which make the movie a fun and enlightening watch.
One commendable aspect of Chaman Bahar is that, despite spending minimal time on character and world-building, the story and its characters fall into place, quickly and easily. The characters in the movie are so comfortable in their roles that they seem to have been plucked out from the small town milieu itself. They seamlessly blend into the small town setting; which is precisely the reason why they stand out. Somu and Chhotu (Bhuvan Arora and Dhirendra Tiwari), friends of Billu, are two such portrayals in the show that take the characterisation a notch above ordinary. So are Aashu, Shila and Chimney. The latter is the younger son of the DFO, another of Rinku’s suitors, and a hilarious addition to the quirkiness of the movie. He speaks nary a word in the entire movie, while bringing on the laughs at his weirdness.
Billu’s besotted lover act is a hoot and Jitendra Kumar pulls it off to a T. He does everything a typical small town romeo would do – getting R inked on an arm, carving their heart-ensconced names on a roadside rock, and the like. His antics, as he attempts to get rid of Rinku’s scores of suitors — his competitors, so to say — are also quite funny. A segment about a bizarre ‘Baba’, who spouts life mantras at the drop of a hat, adds to the humour element.
Adding to the eccentricity of the plot, the writer has incorporated into the movie, the viral ‘Sonam Bewafa hai’ trend that had set Twitter afire several years ago.
Chaman Bahar also lays bare the importance accorded to government jobs in the heartlands of the country. A government employee in small places like the movie’s Lormi is someone to look up to, and ranks high in the town pecking order – quite the opposite of the big city perspective.
What rankles majorly in Chaman Bahar is the casual approach taken by the writer to the heinous, and often traumatising, act of stalking – and stalking a minor girl at that. The entire young guy brigade of the town follows Rinku to and from school – the lower class guys on their cycles, the slightly better off on bikes, and the biggie Shila Bhaiya, in his macho jeep. That the stalking isn’t accompanied by lewdness is a relief, though a minor one. The girl, though, is surprisingly unaffected by all of it, and happily saunters about in shorts and skirts. In the real world, any school-going girl subjected to such extreme stalking would be traumatised beyond words.
Salvaged by Netflix, this Saregama and Yoodlee Films’ movie’s outright glorification of stalking and ogling is the primary reason why, despite its quirky and delightful humour, this Chaman Bahar leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Music and Other Departments?
The music of the movie is nothing to write home about. The Sonu Nigam number, Do Ka Chaar is pleasing to hear while it lasts, and is quickly forgotten as soon as the credits roll in. The editing and cinematography are good, as is the sound direction.
Jitendra Kumar’s acting
The small-town milieu and required world-building
The colloquialism-infused dialogue
The glorification of stalking
The blatant approval of ogling, which is another form of eve-teasing and a punishable offence
Did I Enjoy It?
Some parts, yes
Will You Recommend It?
Only for Jitendra Kumar’s acting
Chaman Bahar Review by Binged Bureau
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