Sensitively directed by Hardik Gajjar who had earlier delivered the 2021 release ‘Bhavai’, ‘Chandlo’ is a sweet, mature and compelling film about second chances in love. Gajjar’s film with a revolutionary theme, based on Kaajal Oza Vaidya’s short story of the same name, stands out for its universal appeal despite being made in Gujarati. The film is making waves as one good production across all languages.
Kudos to the director for taking the untrodden path of selecting a bold regional story that seldom finds a taker in the Hindi film Industry.
The narrative unravels the emotional and logistical baggage of losing someone and then finding love once again. But who says, age, falling in love for the second time and marrying is a cakewalk? Our society and cultural mores are the biggest hindrances and the director handles this subject tactfully.
As bonding and relationships between the protagonists unspool, the narrative gets complex and intriguing. Here, as the chemistry between the cast alters the equation literally and figuratively, we find apart from the direction, the writing too is the strongest element of the film.
To begin with, the title ‘Chandlo’ has a dual meaning and is aptly used for the film. It means a token or a gift given on an auspicious occasion and it also means a bindi. And you realise soon that the bindi is missing on the foreheads of the two leading women in the film.
Aastha (Shraddha Dangar) is a young forlorn woman living with Meera (Kaajal Oza Vaidya), her mother-in-law and a professor. Their lives get upended when ghazal singer Sharan (Manav Gohil) enters their lives and ends up staying in the same building they live in.
On the surface, the story may appear like a predictable love triangle, but it is the easy-going chemistry among the three that makes you empathise with them. Their relationships unravel subtly and their pragmatic approach to life is positive and adorable.
Metaphors too are seamlessly woven into the narrative, giving meaning to the storytelling. Sample this dialogue: “You keep a bird in a cage for years and then you may open the cage. It is not necessary that it will fly away. It doesn’t have the idea of freedom.” This statement encapsulates the essence of the older woman rejecting love.
The plot is linear, with the narrative being focused on delivering its message to its audience, and it succeeds in its endeavour.
The casting in the film is perfect. Kaajal Oza Vaidya, making her debut as the older woman keen on fulfilling her obligations, is remarkable. She is spot-on with displaying her emotions effectively. You feel her pain and misery.
She is aptly supported by Shraddha Dangar, who essays the role of the Aastha. She is the epitome of a pampered daughter and scores in her realistic portrayal of the character.
Manav Gohil’s physical aggression on screen may appear to be an aberration, but still, he delivers a likeable performance in a well-etched character.
Jayesh More as Tapas, Meera’s friend and colleague, an ungratifying character, is a delight to watch. Similarly, the rest of the supporting cast deliver what is expected of them.
The film sparkles with moderate production values. DOP Hrishikesh Ghandi’s camera movements are flawless and the visuals are perfect. The background score by Prasad Sashte and Sachin-Jigar’s music elevate the viewing experience.
Overall, the film will surely touch an emotional chord with the viewers.
Director: Hardik Gajjar
Cast: Manav Gohil, Shraddha Dangar, Jayesh More, Kaajal Oza Vaidya and Ojas Raval
Streaming on: Jio Cinema
Duration: 115 minutes