Mumbai, 07 Sep 2020 15:33 IST
The performance by the group of kids is what makes the film watchable.
Director Shiv Hare’s Atkan Chatkan is a film about the music of the underdogs. Here, the underdogs are rank beggars and slum-dwellers who can’t afford any musical instruments. The film tries to give the message that anybody can excel in music if he or she is passionate enough, irrespective of social class.
Guddu (Lydian Nadhaswaram) lives in Jamunia in Uttar Pradesh with his little sister Lata (Ayesha Vindhara) and father (Amitriyaan) in abject poverty. He is a child labourer working in a small tea shop in nearby Jhansi, to which he commutes daily.
Guddu is the main bread-earner of the family despite being a child. His father, a manual labourer, spends all his money on liquor. It is for this reason that Guddu’s mother left his father years ago. His close friend in Jhansi is the physically challenged kid Madhav (Yash Rane), who sells old books.
Guddu has the special quality of noticing music even in the most mundane activities. It is his dream to enrol in the famous Tansen Sangeet Mahavidyalay and excel at music. But he also knows the stark reality of his life.
Guddu comes across Chhuttan (Sachin Chaudhary) and his sister Meethi (Tamanna Dipak), beggars who sing for money. Guddu, Chhuttan, Meethi and Madhav form a small group, hoping to enter the field of music someday. One day, they get a chance to participate in an all-India music competition at the Tansen Sangeet Mahavidyalay. They also get to train under a kind and caring teacher (Spruha Joshi).
There is no doubt that Atkan Chatkan has noble intentions. But there are too many issues with the film's content, unfortunately. There is no struggle or conflict whatsoever for the kids to overcome to enter a prestigious national competition. It just happens as they are performing on the road while playing anything they can lay their hands on. The principal of the music school notices them and instantly selects them to represent the institute, ignoring its bona fide students. Also, they are given the massive responsibility of winning the contest at any cost since the institute has been losing for the past four years despite hosting the competition.
There are a number of other loopholes in the plot. The biggest comes right at the end when, in the midst of the tournament, the children are told that contestants have to play at least one traditional instrument to qualify for the prize. So all this while the principal and his deputy, who were involved in preparing Guddu & Company, just forgot this basic rule of a contest their own institute hosts?
Even if you ignore such egregious gaps in the plot, the film does little to hold your interest. It seems the writers just somehow wanted to stretch the film till the music competition in the end. So, to kill time, they wove a subplot and a twist related to Guddu’s father’s past which has nothing much to do with the main plot of the music competition.
The only other positive aspect here, apart from the noble intentions, is the performances by the kids. Lydian Nadhaswaram carries the film on his shoulders at such a young age. He goes through various emotions effortlessly. Yash Rane is first rate in a sensitive role. The other kids also put their best foot forward, enabling you to sit through an otherwise dreary affair.
Atkan Chatkan is now available on Zee5.
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