Chandu Champion Movie Review: A Medal Winner

Murlikant: Paralympic Pioneer showcases the inspiring journey of India's first Paralympic gold medalist, Murlikant Petkar, from adversity to triumph.


In a nut-shell:

A Medal Winner

Chandu Champion Cast/ Actors: Kartik Aaryan as Murlikant Petkar, Vijay Raaz, Rajpal Naurang Yadav as Topaz ward boy, Bhuvan Arora as an army soldier Karnail Singh, Manoj Anand as Indian Diplomat, Adonis Kapsalis as Carlos Pedroza, Shreyas Talpade as SHO Sachin Kamble, Himanshu Jaykar & More

 Chandu Champion Movie Director: Kabir Khan

 Chandu Champion Movie Release Date: June 14, 2024

Chandu Champion Movie Available On: Theatrical Release and (likely to be released on OTT Platform Amazon Prime Video or ZEE5)

Chandu Champion Movie Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi

Chandu Champion Movie Runtime: 143 Minutes

Chandu Champion Movie Critic Review:

The rousing welcome accorded to an Olympics hero at a local railway station inspires
schoolboy Murlikant Rajaram Petkar to such an extent that it sets off an ardent dream in him – to bring home an Olympic gold.

The Olympics, the medals, the categories, are all alien terms to the little boy from Sangli, Maharashtra, whose academic failures exasperate his father. But dad, schoolmates, indeed the whole village that taunts him as ‘Chandu Champion’, can’t put a spoke in Murlikant’s destiny.

Director Kabir Khan, along with his writing team (Sumeet Arora, Sudipto Sarkar, Rohit
Shukre) attempt to make the Petkar biopic an entertainment package with much frivolity and friendship in the air.

Three situations power Murlikant’s ambitions.

A timely hand from Karnail Singh (Bhuvan Arora), an army soldier on a train, helps Murlikant escape the ire of stick-wielding villagers out to thrash him.

Paralysed and in a coma for years, even losing bladder control, Murlikant survives nine
bullets from a near-fatal air raid on his army base.

Despite several fists of sleeping pills, he lives on, winning a dream amount in a gambling stint and miraculously regaining bladder control. As ward boy Topaz (Rajpal Naurang Yadav) says wonderstruck, “Paisa andar, susu bahar.

That’s when it finally dawns on Murlikant that destiny is on his side.

And he gets his coveted gold medal in the Paralympics of 1972.

What could’ve been a dry biopic with a familiar framework and the routine message of
‘never give up’, gets a sparkle from comic touches, an incredible story, certain memorable shots and an emotional thread tying it all up together.

Take off with disbelieving and slightly low IQ SHO Sachin Kamble (Shreyas Talpade) and Brijendra Kala as a knowledgeable convict in handcuffs, listening to Murlikant who has come to the police station to file a complaint against a string of Presidents of India.

Murlikant’s story unfolds.

The light touch: The crash of an Air India plane in the seas off Bombay, described with black humour at a railway station. An army officer (Yashpal Sharma) screaming ‘Namoona’, the cadets training and marching to ‘Gore gore o banke chhore’. Murlikant petrified of his first plane ride to Tokyo for the International Military Games of 1964. An unsmiling boxing coach Tiger Ali (Vijay Raaz) who gets people’s names wrong all the time (though Kabir forgets this characteristic soon after). Murlikant’s fumbles with the English language (a bit done to death in Hindi cinema) which is sometimes hilarious (like the headline Karnail reads out about the Wonder Boy from India). Learning to eat with fork and knife (another old one from Hindi cinema of the 60s and 70s), a nurse speaking Anglo-Indian Hindi and Rajpal Yadav’s antics, pepper the narration. Some work, some irritate.

The authentic touch: References to Ratan Khatri, the matka king, Dara Singh in the boxing ring even at 40, the 1972 terror attack in Munich and recovering at the renowned INHS Asvini in Mumbai, bolster the true story of Murlikant Petkar.

The cinematographer’s touch: Sudeep Chatterjee’s shots especially during the energetically composed and choreographed ‘Mauj karen padosi’ (good one, Pritam) with silhouetted figures atop a train and watching boats in the water from a Mumbai beach, give professional efficiency to the narration.

The friendship between Karnail and Murlikant is special in several scenes. To pick just one, Karnail helping from behind the coach’s back when Murlikant has to win his first
introductory bout in the boxing ring.

Some lines bring gravitas to the story. After he’s muffed up in Tokyo, when Murlikant asks his coach to give him a second chance, Tiger Ali remarks, “Tu mere life ka ‘ek chance aur’ tha.” When Petkar is initially rejected by the Indian babus as a participant in the Paralympics due to low funds after the 71 war, he tells them, “We (people with disabilities) are not considered regular people. But our ummeed, jazbaa, himmat are all regular. It’s only your nazar that’s not regular.” Though it does go overboard with the ward boy ticking off the committee and Murlikant’s monologue on becoming a champion, on how to win over the voice that doubts you every day, gets stretched. These are the moments when Kabir sticks to a traditional template on how an achiever’s story must be told.

Kabir also uses certain routine sequences. Many training stints – in the village to be a
pehelwan, in the army to be a boxer, in the swimming pool for the Paralympics – come with the expected background number that has words like ‘hausle’, ‘manzil’ and ‘sarfaroshi’. When a match is on, knots of people listening to the radio commentary are also familiar – the family in the village, the hospital staff, army colleagues. And there’s a sad song in the background when Murlikant’s family that can’t afford to look after him, returns to the village leaving him behind at the hospital saying, ‘You’re better off here’.

Although there is a minor distraction with the presence of an Indian female journalist in Tokyo, one that costs him a crucial match, Murlikant’s life is largely without romance, like an all-boys’ school. And the accent used is not strictly or uniformly Sangli.

But the languorous pace picks up towards the end when he gets his Padma Shri and gets a hero’s welcome in his hometown. Tears blend with the cheers.

This is perhaps Kartik Aaryan’s most gruelling assignment so far and his sincerity shows, his natural vulnerability drawing you to travel with Murlikant. A special mention to Preetisheel Singh D’souza for Kartik’s look as the ageing Murlikant.

Shreyas Talpade, Vijay Raaz and Brijendra Kala too, lend their skills to support Petkar’s

Chandu Champion Movie watch or not: Whether this champion wins at the box-office or not, he will win a medal or two. His story’s worth listening to.

Chandu Champion Movie Review Score Rating:  3.5 out of 5 (i.e. 3.5/5)

Chandu Champion Movie Official Trailer:

Chandu Champion Official Trailer (Credits: NadiadwalaGrandson)

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A Medal WinnerChandu Champion Movie Review: A Medal Winner