It is typical of the realistic (this term being almost like some euphemism for the pseudo-intellectual team behind “Ramsingh Charlie”) brigade that what could have been a delightful small film becomes a pointlessly pessimistic film that, in its present form, should ideally have not been made at all!
Here was a sweet and warm story—that is, in potential. It tells of a circus joker, Charlie (Kumud Mishra), who is born there, has a pregnant wife (Divya Dutta) and son and loses his morale and direction when the circus folds up because it is running into losses.
Back to his basic identity as Ramsingh, he tries various options to earn a livelihood and becomes a rickshaw-puller in Kolkata. But a few incidents and his wife’s and son’s approach make him realize that he is Charlie at the core, and that Ramsingh is actually a stranger!
He then decides that he will start his own circus. And the struggles begin. An unexpected bonus is that he can use the equipment from the old circus that has been preserved by his aged mentor and circus owner Masterji (a female, played by Salima Raza), who has always had a soft corner for him because his father was her first employee. But her son (Akarsh Khurana) wants a big sum for all the goods.
This insurmountable problem is solved in the most unexpected and gratifying way. And then the intellectual forces behind this film, in the name of “Being real,” kill the happy ending and, ambiguously, even make it look like an optimistic, Charlie-glorifying one. Maybe Chaplin’s real saga overshadowed their intention to make an Indian film that Indians would appreciate—I mean Indian audiences, not Indian critics!
Except for the proceedings in the last 20 minutes, the film has a lot of heart and soul, which is why the unpalatable end is acutely shocking, though there are some indications in the beginning. I still wonder why such writers and filmmakers exist who expect film buffs to pay for tickets and then do not give them even basic gratification, all in the much-abused name of “realism” and “sensible storytelling!”
Aspiration-based and inspirational stories are passé with this breed of makers—and those are the edifices on which every child in this world grows up, and every adult builds his life’s blocks! What really makes these gentlemen go deviant for no reason would indeed make for an interesting psychoanalysis!
The major saving-grace of the film is the ever-reliable Kumud Mishra in the title-role, looking younger, fitter and incredibly in sync as the joker. The sequence where Ramsingh “chats” with Charlie is beautifully done by this wonderful actor, with expressions that can only be termed fabulously touching. This again heightens my pique that such a superb actor has been, in the final analysis, going to go unrewarded and unexposed for those who should have noticed his brilliant turn yet again.
Divya Dutta has nothing much to do, but shines all the same. Rohit Rokhade as Charlie’s son is very good. So is Farrukh Seyer as Charlie’s friend, until his character is given a stupid slant. The rest are average, though Akarsh Khurana is quite wooden.
The music is as usual in sync with today’s times—that is, insignificant and trivial—and the technical side is decent. Wish the script and direction were decent too, as such a small film could have indeed been a little wonder.
Produced by: Sharib Hashmi, Nitin Kakkar & Umesh Pawar
Directed by: Nitin Kakkar
Written by: Nitin Kakkar & Sharib Hashmi
Music: Arijit Dutta & Troy Arif
Starring: Kumud Mishra, Divya Dutta, Akarsh Khurana, Salima Raza, Rohit Rokhade, Farrukh Seyer, Hemwant Tiwari, Sharib Hashmi & others