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The makers had initially toyed with the idea of making a film inspired from the journey the great Charlie had. But then, they decided to tell a story closer to home. ‘Ramsingh Charlie’, the debut production of The Goodfellas Co. a company founded by Nitin Kakkar, Sharib Hashmi and Umesh Pawar, took a while to reach the audience. The film, featuring Kumud Mishra in the titular role, was shot a couple of years back, made a round of a few film festivals but struggled to find a release for itself. The film has now found a home on Sony LIV, a streaming platform.

Ramsingh (Kumud Mishra) grew up in Jango Circus, a circus which his late father remained devoted to all his life and one where he plays ‘Charlie’ now. Ramsingh cannot think of a life beyond circus. The circus is all he knows and this is what he lives for. His wife Kajri (Divya Dutta), too, works for the circus and their young son Chintu (Rohit Rokhade) dreams of playing the same character, which people love to see his father playing, when he grows up. One fine day, the circus shuts down. The family’s dreams lie shattered and they fall upon hard times. Ramsingh tries to do a variety of odd jobs and ends up working as a rickshaw-puller to make ends meet. Will he ever get to play Charlie again and fulfil his dream of having his own circus someday?

The film opens with a variation of an iconic dialogue from a popular Hindi film which talks about life and death and how an artist plays different kind of roles, both on stage and off it. That sets the tone for the narrative that unfolds. You see Ramsingh being compelled to leave his dreams behind and make the best out of the few opportunities life offers him. The film, then, shows the part of his life which is completely different from what forms his reality today. The film moves at a fast pace with several key events unfolding one after another quickly but in an organic manner. Twenty minutes into the film, we see Ramsingh struggling to adapt into a world that is far removed from the world which he used to call his home. He is struggling to find a job and fend for his family. All this plays out with the help of some beautifully edited montages and a tuneful number voiced by Rahul Ram.

The film, which has a runtime of around 1 hour and 35 minutes, keeps you thoroughly invested in it thanks to a well-conceived screenplay (Nitin Kakkar and Sharib Hashmi) that is filled with engaging dramatic moments, heart-warming  scenes and humour peppered in the right places. One of the biggest strengths of the film is its pace. You keep guessing what is going to happen next and most of the important turns in the narrative either bring a smile to your face or make your eyes moist. On the flipside, there are a few key events in the last twenty minutes which come across as a little abrupt. You feel the writers might have taken a bit of creative liberty to put the pieces together. The climax packs a punch but there was definitely a scope for a better build-up here which could have resulted in a more dramatic impact.

Ramsingh goes through a melange of bittersweet experiences and as a viewer, you relate to his journey so well because of Kumud Mishra’s portrayal. He brings alive every emotion of Charlie onto the screen effortlessly. This is one of his finest performances till date and for a change, it is nice to see him playing a character that is closer to his real age. Divya Dutta does a splendid job at portraying the warmth, sensitivity and vulnerability of Kajri. Watch out for the scenes in which she has no or minimal dialogues and she conveys so much through her expressions. Salima Raza is wonderful as Masterji. Farrukh Seyer is a talent to watch out for. He delivers an extremely confident performance as Shahjehan. KK Goswami gets a couple of scenes to shine and he does very well. Same goes for Liliput. Sharib Hashmi, who has co-written and co-produced the film, is seen in a well-written and well-performed cameo. Akarsh Khurana leaves a mark as Nabeel.

There are times when a film gets a delayed release or even fails to get a release for itself largely because the final product did not shape up as well as the makers or the stakeholders would have envisioned. Then, there are times when a very well-made film struggles to reach out to an audience because of other factors. ‘Ramsingh Charlie’ had to go through a similar struggle but now that this well-crafted film has come out on a streaming platform, you must make time for it.