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Chaman Bahaar Movie Review: Jitendra Kumar steals the limelight in this bizarre carnival of toxic masculinity

By Twinkle Ghosh

Director: Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann

Cast: Jitendra Kumar, Ritika Badiani, Bhuvan Arora, Alam Khan

Streaming Partner: Netflix

Netflix India’s latest offering Chaman Bahaar, details the story of a small town where the arrival of a school-going teenager sends men (vastly older) off their rockers, in a disturbingly normalised narrative.

Remember the times when one-way romance was nothing more than mutual passion and stalking was rammed down one’s throat as harmless wooing? When men would casually hang around the homes and colleges of their desired ones and follow them around? Well, Chaman Bahar is all that and more

Remember the times when one-way romance was nothing more than mutual passion and stalking was rammed down one’s throat as harmless wooing? When men would casually hang around the homes and colleges of their desired ones and follow them around? Well, Chaman Bahar is all that and more.

The film begins with Billu (played by Jitendra Kumar) who runs a down-and-out paan shop in the middle of nowhere. However, Lady Luck smiles at him when a family with a teenage girl moves into the house across his shop. Rinku, the girl in question (played by Ritika Badiani), obviously pays the price for being fair-skinned and wearing shorts, contributing towards Billu’s flourishing fortunes.

Billu too falls for underage Rinku because he was after all, the first one to spot her

Hordes of men start flocking Billu’s shop due to their new-found hunger for paan and cigarettes and turn it into a popular spot for girl gaping. Carrom and gambling dens are also set up – any excuse to hang around for a glimpse.

Cut to the chase, Billu too falls for underage Rinku because he was after all, the first one to spot her. But things soon get serious and the family seeks the intervention of a police officer, who clobbers up Billu sans any chance of explanation. In the aftermath, Billu, without batting an eyelid, sets out to damage Rinku’s reputation by painting unflattering slogans about her across the town.

Jeetendra Kumar delivers a convincing performance as the love-struck Billu who finds himself outmatched in strength, fame and money.

This no-brainer of a film continues for close to two mind-numbing hours, making you hunt hopelessly for at least so much of a signal that perhaps it is in reality against stalker conduct, and that it doesn’t for a moment forgive harassment of any kind, let alone of an underage girl. Then again, Chaman Bahaar thinks it is a romantic love story!

However, the talented Jitendra Kumar is spot-on as Billu. Even though in view of his recent work in Kota Factory, Panchayat and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Chaman Bahaar feels like a let-down, the actor still delivers a convincing performance as the love-struck Billu who finds himself outmatched in strength, fame and money. He breathes life into the struggles of a small-town loser who dreams big for once.

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