Director: Pankaj Saraswat
Written by: Pankaj Sarawat and Abhishek Khairkar
Edited by: Chandan Arora and Mitesh Soni
Cinematography: Andre Menezes
Starring: Aadar Jain, Jackie Shroff, Elnaaz Norouzi, Shlokka Pandit
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
As I watched the truly terrible Hello Charlie, I wondered: How does a film like this get made? Did writer-director Pankaj Saraswat sit in the swanky Excel Entertainment office and actually narrate a story in which Jackie Shroff spends most of his time disguised as a gorilla? And what compelled producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, the powerhouses who started their careers with Dil Chahta Hai, to say yes. And how many days did Jackie shoot for? Because while he’s in the gorilla suit, we see him in tight close-up, grunting or rolling his eyes. And why does his character, a Nirav Modi-style billionaire, who is trying to flee from India after orchestrating a 4000-crore scam, have such a hatred of bananas? Is it only so another character can offer him one and ask: You don’t like banana, Mr. Makwana? I suspect the answers to these questions would be more entertaining than this film.
Hello Charlie is one of those films that defies reviews. Because I’m not sure I can properly explain how excruciating it is to watch. The plot revolves around Makwana attempting to get to Diu where he will leave for Dubai by boat. His girlfriend – Mona, presumably named after the iconic moll Mona from Ajit movies – decides that the best way would be for him to be in a monkey suit. Aadar Jain plays the titular Charlie, an honest, earnest boy who can’t seem to do anything right. Charlie is hired by Mona to take the disguised Makwana in his truck. On the way, there are several misadventures.
Maybe Jackie enjoyed playing, as a character says, ‘bandaron ka Hrithik Roshan’, but for the rest of us, it’s mind-numbing. I could feel myself getting stupider with every scene. These include a circus item song, a game of chess that Makwana in the gorilla suit plays with a drunk veterinary doctor; a real gorilla who adds to the confusion; and a forest ranger who shoots Makwana with a tranquilizer gun. Through its duration, the film stays defiantly bad, almost as though someone dared the makers to scrape the depths of awfulness.
The one thing that looks like someone paid attention to it is Aadar Jain’s hair, which stays perfectly coiffed, irrespective of the situation. I also enjoyed Jackie’s wardrobe which ranges from an expensive-looking printed bathrobe to a snazzy jacket with flowers. Maybe that’s what convinced him to play the banana-hating Makwana.
We will never know.
You can watch Hello Charlie on Amazon Prime Video. Though I’ve suffered it so you don’t have to.