In the last few years, one has seen a few Hindi films that touched upon the subject of sex education either overtly or as a sub-plot. Films like ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ and ‘Doctor G’ come to one’s mind instantly. ‘Chhatriwali’, a new film that has released on the streaming platform Zee5, largely revolves around this subject. The film features Rakul Preet in the titular role and has been directed by Tejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar.
Sanya Dhingra (Rakul Preet Singh) lives in Karnal, a small town in Haryana with her mother (Dolly Ahluwalia) and younger sister (Kajol Chugh). Being the sole breadwinner in the family, Sanya finds it difficult to manage the expenses of the household by taking chemistry tuition and is on the lookout for a well-paid job. A chance encounter with Ratan Lamba (Satish Kaushik), the owner of a condom manufacturing company, leads her towards being offered the job of a condom tester. While Sanya feels aghast at being offered such a job initially, she decides to take it up owing to the financial challenges she is facing. While Sanya has made it a point to ensure nobody knows she works as a condom tester, she becomes even more firm about hiding the truth about her profession as she gets ready to tie the knot with her boyfriend Rishi (Sumeet Vyas). All hell breaks loose as the men of Karnal, and not just her family, discover the kind of profession she engaged in.
The Hindi film industry has projected several films as ‘small town films’ even though they were set in bigger cities like Lucknow, Bareilly, Kanpur and Ghaziabad, among others. In ‘Chatriwali, thankfully, a tier-two city is not passed off as a small town. When you read up a bit on Karnal, you realize it is a bonafide small town.
While the writers seemed to have put in some effort to decide the town the narrative will be set in, they seem to have their own notions about how people residing in small towns think and behave. Some of the proceedings in the film are bizarre, to say the least. The owner of a chemist store getting livid at a large number of men queuing up at his store asking for condoms is too far-fetched. While one could imagine a young woman like Sanya dealing with difficult situations because of her choice of profession in a small town, the hurdles she is shown to be facing are just not believable. Many turns in the narrative are also not explained properly. The change of heart that Rishi goes through feels very sudden and abrupt. Even a shift in the mindset experienced by a character towards the end of the film is not very convincing.
Rakul Preet delivers a good performance and carries the film well on her shoulders. Sumeet Vyas plays yet another likable character and does well. As Rajan Kalra, Rajesh Tailang delivers the most memorable performance in the film. Prachee Shah Pandya gets a couple of scenes to leave an impact. Satish Kaushik generates laughs with his performance and the dialogues he mouths. Dolly Ahluwalia gets limited scope. Rakesh Bedi tries his best to salvage a poorly written character.
Despite having some similarities with films like ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’, ‘Chhatriwali’ could have left an impact with the kind of subject it was dealing with. Neither the writers nor the director manages to do justice to it and the films you get to see is anything but memorable.