Director: Pankaj Saraswat
Written by: Pankaj Sarawat and Abhishek Khairkar
Edited from: Chandon Arora and Mitesh Sony
Cinematography: Andre Menezes
Starring: Aadar Jain, Jackie Shroff, Elnaaz Norouzi, Shloka Pandit
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Make no mistake, we all get to this point. A point at which we reflect on the choices we have made, the decisions we have made, the lives we have lived, and the paths we have taken that have somehow led us to this exact moment of introspection. For some, this can happen when the waiter refuses to pour them another drink in a troubled bar after a messy divorce, or when the ATM spits out their debit card in second-hand embarrassment. For others, it could be while watching a movie during a global pandemic starring Jackie Shroff, who is joking in a gorilla costume in the back of a truck that was once abducted by an evil circus owner from Gujarati. whose circus presents a song as an item of his main act.
The creators of Hi Charlie maybe he wants to make us believe that theirs is a harmless children’s film. However, if I were a child, I would start a movement against adult directors who try to justify insanity by dedicating it to babies. (If I were a monkey, I’m already Caesar at the end of The rise of the ape planet.) What kid watches a movie in which a circus has horny men laughing at a young woman dancing for them? I suspect it’s better not to know the answer. I would also imagine that Kong and the protective gorilla from Baby’s day would be quite offended by a comedy that leads a veteran Bollywood actor to play a fugitive billionaire whose grandiose escape plan includes a masked camouflage, a cage, and a sultry mate named Mona Darling.
If that’s not enough, Aadar Jain, who looks a lot like Nakul Kapoor in Shibani Kashyap’s 90s pop hitHo Gai Hai Mohabat (or The movie Tumse Accha Kaun Hai, depending on how old you are), plays an incompetent simpleton from Indore who is responsible for transporting gorillas from Mumbai to Diu, not knowing that he is actually a man. (At one point, he joins a complex song by the roadside daba with the giant monkey to pay for the diesel on his truck – a scene that may have been written as a tragedy in a film directed by a white man.) Why Diu, you ask? Such an unusual movie destination. Perhaps because this is a rare area of Gujarati where alcohol is sold legally – and one cannot be sober to take part in this journey with a rabbit’s brain. Or maybe it’s because Shroff’s character, Makwana, MD, is a cunning forger for beer baron and fugitive Vijay Malya. Throw in a forest ranger Gir, played by Rajpal Yadav (not seen for a long time), a plane crash that leads to a real gorilla from Uganda at large, a shot from two gorillas peeing on both sides of the hero, an enlightened veterinarian, the culmination of sedatives arrows and stray bullets – and I wonder why I’m still writing this review.
Speaking of Baby’s day, I can’t help but remember the scene when the gorilla in the zoo and its supposed target audience, a baby, outwit the three adult crooks who underestimate both the animal and the baby. Somewhere there is a lesson for Indian directors. And in case you’re wondering, I’m “other” in the first paragraph. One day you will be too. Make no mistake. Or better yet, make so many mistakes that Hi Charlie not the worst part of your decade.