Feature: Hello Charlie
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Aadar Jain, Shhloka Pandit, Elnaaz Norouzi, and Rajpal Yadav
Directed By: Pankaj Saraswat
Runtime: 1h 42m
Hello Charlie film story starts with Mr Makwana a banana hating businessman on the run from the law – that’s the running gag in writer-director Pankaj Saraswat’s (far-from comic) comedy Hello Charlie. Jackie Shroff plays Makwana, adorned with a silver toupee, ponytail and a huge fraud charge on his back, he is trying to flee the country. His arm candy, Mona darling (how original), suggests he escapes in a gorilla suit. The ridiculous idea comes to her from a news report about a hit movie called Monster Monkey.
The one funny scene is Shroff/ Makwana watching monkey videos to get into the act. Costume got, idea in place, Mona (Elnaaz Norouzi) now hires the dumbest kid on the block to drive Makwana cross country to the port of Diu.
Aadar Jain plays Charlie, who you might be kind enough to describe as a ‘simpleton’. Absolutely devoid of street smarts or any useful skills, his only redeeming quality is he’s a nice chap. So a nice, but simple, chap with a borrowed truck is transporting a man who he believes is a primate who is actually a fugitive by law.
In the universe of Hello Charlie, a gorilla could be changing a punctured tyre on the side of an Indian highway and not one passing vehicle will stop to look or take a picture. Not to mention Charlie having no curiosity about the texture of Toto the gorilla’s fur, skin or tyre changing abilities.
To complicate matters, and create a case of mistaken identity etc., a real gorilla has escaped a plane crash. Charlie also has a clash with an opportunistic circus owner want to acquire the talented Toto. This circus in Gujarat features a showcase song and dance by Padmini.
Charlie finds an unexpected ally in dancer-performer Padmini (Shlokka Pandit), who is indentured to the circus owner. Together they free Toto, but can Makwana escape the cops and Charlie’s idiocy?
Of the performances, the gorillas completely upstage the human actors who are constrained by a banal story. If there is a comment on scams and frauds in the country, it’s stifled by the bright colours, madness and irritating characters that populate this slapstick adventure.
We give the film 2 stars. Hello Charlie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.