Duration: 1 Hr 51 Mins
Director: Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann
Genre: Comedy. Drama
Release Date: 19th June 2020
Streaming On: Netflix
Star Cast: Jitendra Kumar, Ritika Badiani, Yogendra Tikku, Bhuvann Arora, Alam Khan
Plot: ‘Chaman Bahar’ is set in one such unique spot - Lormi in Mungeli district of Chhattisgarh. - where a young man, Billu (Jitendra Kumar) chooses to go against his family and open his own paan shop instead of taking up a forest department job like his father (Yogendra Tikku). However he ends up swatting flies as his business runs unbearably slow. But soon his fortune sparks when a young teenage girl Rinku (Ritika Badiani) catches the fancy of all the men in this town, who with her family has moved into the house right opposite to his shop.
As his shop becomes a stopover and his business gets quite stable, he sets up a carrom club too. But the story takes a turn when he too falls for her, and gets torn between keeping his business intact, or to shut it down.
Review: The director of Chaman Bahaar, Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann has perfectly rendered the tone and texture of ‘life in a small town’ - with the region’s distinct culture, language, topography, and people; young men to be specific.
The one-sided love story of Billu that takes flight although only in his mind, is quirky to watch and has showcased the small-town’s male-centric world. It casts a critical eye on everything from small-town political dynamics to toxic masculinity, but the film almost legitimises stalking therefore, though it starts off comically, it soon gives way to an uncomfortable track of unabashed male entitlement as men much older than Rinku are shown following her, who park themselves for hours in front of her house.
All we get to see at the start are repetitive scenes of eyeing and gaping at the woman and dialogues which talk stuff like “pagalpan sachche aashiq ki nishani hoti hai (madness is the sign of a true lover).” – and it sure does manage to make one squirm more than smile. Overall, the manner in which youth in a small village go after a beautiful girl, their mentalities, and approach have been showcased well. It’s basically the characters, the setting, their manner of speaking, all that comes together to bring out an authentic feel.
However, one of the biggest drawbacks of the film is the slow pace; it is only during the two thirds down the narrative, when things do pick up.
When it comes to performances Jitendra Kumar is back again with his another impeccable act after Panchayat and is definitely the high point of ‘Chaman Bahar.’ He has blended into the small town milieu without a blip and nailed every mood and nuance of his character wonderfully. Even the rest of the cast across the board pulls off a good performance.
However, Ritika is barely given a line to speak in the whole film- she is just a fantasy beyond the reach of all these men and that makes her just a ‘presence’ in the film, and not a ‘character.’
As far as music is concerned, the film has two superb songs sung by Sonu Nigam which makes things quite endearing. Even the background music, art direction, and camera work is terrific.
Overall, Chaman Bahaar may falter in parts but the climax of the film is quite emotional, that image of Billu towards the end, curled up on the roadside with a street dog for company, will remain with you after the film ends too. Hence, a film that makes up for a decent watch.