‘Chhatriwali’ movie review: Rakul Preet Singh shines in this timely tale on sex education

In making a dramedy that underscores the importance of sex education without getting didactic, director Tejas Vijay Deoskar handles the subject with sensitivity and a fair understanding of the characters’ background

Updated - January 20, 2023 03:44 pm IST

Published - January 20, 2023 01:44 pm IST

Rakul Preet Singh in a still from ‘Chhatriwali’

Rakul Preet Singh in a still from ‘Chhatriwali’ | Photo Credit: ZEE5

A social drama with dollops of humour that underlines the importance of contraceptives and sex education in schools and society, Chhatriwali provides a dose of positivity and protection from boredom.

Situated around an unemployed but industrious girl who gets into the business of testing the quality of rubbers, the crux of the story and the familiar obstacles in the path of the protagonist are strikingly similar to the Nushrratt Bharuccha-starrer, Janhit Mein Jaari (JMJ), which appealed last year thanks to its rustic humour in a small town setting and credible performances.

The fascination for the idea of a girl in a condom factory reminds me of the days when Arunachalam Muruganatham’s success story spurred multiple screenplays on the ‘padman’ within a short span of time. As the end credits suggest, it is a dated idea because in real life many women from different strata of society are already employed in the contraceptive sector. It is only Bollywood’s tube light that lit up when there was a demand for issue-driven cinema.

Chhatriwali (Hindi)
Director: Tejas Vijay Deoskar
Cast: Rakul Preet Singh, Sumeet Vyas, Rajesh Tailang, Prachi Shah, Rakesh Bedi
Runtime: 116 minutes
Storyline: A Chemistry graduate finds a job in a contraceptive factory, and this troubles her personal life

Apart from the predictability of the plot, Chhatriwali, set in Haryana’s Karnal, is almost as much fun as JMJ and would appeal to audiences that expect more from their daily soaps. Written with wit and directed (by Tejas Vijay Deoskar) with sensitivity and a fair understanding of the background of the characters, the narrative largely steers clear of the preachy potholes that usually dot such tales. Instead of painting people in monochrome, writers Sanchit Gupta and Priyadarshee Srivastava look for gaps in our education system in times of search engines. It probes a man’s understanding of a female body and a woman’s silence in the name of tradition and a misplaced idea of family honour.

A chemistry graduate for whom life is a laboratory, Sanya (Rakul Preet Singh) is desperately seeking employment. A chance meeting with the owner of a condom company (Satish Kaushik) lands her a job as a quality control manager. As expected, it creates faultlines in her personal space and her love life develops a limp.

Married into a family that is in the business of selling material for religious rituals, her job doesn’t gel with the social profile of the family. She could make her intermediate-fail husband (Sumeet Vyas) understand, but could not get past the moral compass of her brother-in-law (Rajesh Tailang) who happens to be a Biology teacher. In school, he comes across as a compassionate instructor but teaches chapters on sexual reproduction through examples of birds. In his personal life, he appears to be a caring husband and father but considers using contraceptives akin to a social crime. His wife (Prachi Shah) mistakes his callous approach for love and suffers.

After a long wait, Rakul has been cast in a performance-oriented role in a Hindi film and she charms her way through with a variegated display of emotions. Shedding her glamorous avatar, for once, Rakul comes out of the shadow of a male star and delivers a noteworthy performance.

Sumeet Vyas is excellent as the husband caught between a forward-looking wife and a doting brother who wants to tie him to obscurantism in the name of tradition. Veterans Rakesh Bedi and Kaushik pitch in with interesting cameos. Though a bit dated and a tad simplistic, Chhatriwali is a timely tale that leaves a pleasant flavour.

Chhatriwali is currently streaming on ZEE 5

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