We saw it all in films like Helmet and Janhit Mein Jaari where comedy revolved around men too shy to use the ‘C’ word buying up items they didn’t require before asking for a condom. This time, director Tejas Prabhaa Vijay Deoskar teams up with writers Sanchit Gupta and Priyadarshee Srivastava to throw in a shopkeeper (Rakesh Bedi) who also preaches that condom is an ashleel (obscene) product. Simple question nobody asks: why does he stock it?
Manufacturing, marketing and using condoms is socially condemnable in Karnal city. Sanya (Rakul Preet Singh) is so ashamed of being a quality control head in a condom factory that she passes it off as a job in an umbrella factory. The use of euphemisms like ‘chhatri’ and ‘helmet’ spills over from the earlier films on safe sex and condoms. From her mother to her husband Rishi Kalra (Sumeet Vyas), Sanya lies to one and all. In fact, her in-laws who think she’s the quality control head of an umbrella factory even proudly call her “Karnal ki Indra Nooyi”.
Like Ayushmann Khurrana’s Dr G with the unbelievable premise of gynaecology being a ladies-only profession, Deoskar has classrooms with gender divisions made when biology teacher Bhaiji (Rajesh Tailang), Rishi’s older brother, teaches the reproductive system. Abortions, miscarriages, uncaring husbands and wilting wives are brought in to ultimately push a message on condoms and safe sex. Social evils must have a sanskari backdrop, so the Kalras are a traditional family that own a shop which sells everything needed for Hindu rituals.
Like a good destination reached through a bumpy road full of potholes, Sanya has condom conversations with Rishi, her slogan being, ‘Mujhse karna hai pyaar toh condom ko karo sweekar’. But even after she realises that her job is a noble one and she embarks on a crusade for safe sex and condoms, she continues to hide her workplace from her mother and her husband.
The fact that Sanya preaches one thing but can’t bring herself to reveal that she works in a condom manufacturing factory is one of the biggest weaknesses in this antiquated setting, denting the impact of her social message.
The multi tracks are messy. Bhaiji’s wife Nisha (Prachee Pandya) with hidden woes, her school-going daughter who joins Sanya to be the catalyst for change and background songs like ‘Chhatriwali’ contribute to make it an annoying watch. Comedy as in, how can there be flavours in umbrellas or the mother’s jokes on the terrace, don’t land at any time.
Rakul’s feminism is laboured. So is Deoskar’s storytelling.
After a string of uncreative scenes that include a screenful of umbrellas, drops of liquid from a dropper when there’s lovemaking, ‘maachis’ and camphor as illustration, a leaky roof when condoms that leak must be fixed, and Rishi telling his Bhaiji, “I’m 12th Std fail but you’re the anpadh”, Sanya the crusader wins over the Kalras. Karnal is saved. Jump with joy, condoms are no longer considered ‘gandee cheez’ and reproduction will be taught in a co-ed class.
Watch Chhatriwali Trailer: