Chaman Bahaar starts off as an attempt at situational comedy, giving high hopes to the audience. But it ends up making the audience feel a bit dry and uncomfortable with its plot. The movie has nothing new to offer and this constant feeling of something missing will make for a tiresome watch.
The plot of Chaman Bahaar starts with Billu (Jitendra Kumar) giving up a job in the forest department to start his own business of a paan shop. When ridiculed by his father, he says that he wants a reputation of his own in the town. The journey to make a name begins.
Billu sets up his shop. But to his horror, he finds out that the shop cannot give him as much business as he had thought of. Due to a change in the district, his business is too arid, just like the town. One day, his fortunes turn. In the house opposite his shop, the family of the sub-engineer shifts.
The family is quite normal but the shorts-wearing, scooter-riding, and fair-skinned Rinku (Ritika Badlani) charms the hearts of men across the town of Lormi. An underage girl has incited the many men of the town who form a convoy behind her whenever she leaves her home on her scooter.
This convoy turns to Billu’s shop for snacks and other refreshments while hoping of catching a glimpse of Rinku in her balcony. This gives a booming business to Billu.
A taste for paan and cigarettes is developed by several men of different age groups. Word travels about a shorts-wearing, or as is fondly called in Chaman Bahaar “half-pant”, Rinku. Local politicians like Shila Bhaiya (Alam Khan) and Aashu Bhaiya (Ashwani Kumar) also enter the scene.
They also show their interest in the teenager. Shila Bhaiya asks his driver to follow her and drive so close to her that she knows that she is being followed. A carrom club is set up beside the paan shop. The crowd collects at the paan shop to discuss Rinku’s activities over paans and cigarettes.
All these troubles BillU. After all, he was the first one to have discovered the beauty of Rinku Danoriya. He tries to cast away the crowd. He never tells anyone that Rinku comes out of the house around 5 pm to walk her dog. He keeps that time for his personal benefit.
So now, the town politicians are behind the girl, all the boys of the town are behind her, the paan-walla is behind her and on top of it, her teacher also has his eyes set on her. All this is shown as harmless wooing and the passion of a one-sided lover.
The family resorts to the local police officer, Bhadauria, for help. He is the typical Dabangg-style officer. He comes to the shop, gives a thrashing to Billu as well as the other boys. He asks them to not form a crowd around the shop. He slaps Bill once or twice since he is the shop-owner.
This infuriates Billu. He sets out on a mission to defame the teenager. He paints the town with slogans of “Rinku Danoriya bewafa hai.” He even writes this on notes. The father of the daughter gets immensely worried and goes back to the police officer for help.
On the eve of New year. all the wooers are sitting beside the paan-shop and drinking. Just then, Bhadauria arrives at the scene. He beats Billu for defaming the innocent girl and takes him into custody. Later on, he is released by Rinku’s father and is used as political propaganda by the local politicians.
At the end of Chaman Bahaar, Billu’s father tells him that he had set on a great path to make a name for himself in the town. He has managed to create a great name for himself.
The story of Chaman Bahaar is written by Apurva Dhar Badgaiyam who is also the director of the movie. Apurva tells the entire story through the point of view of a male, giving it an uncomfortable male entitlement. Rinku, the female protagonist, is not given even a single dialogue in the two-hour-long movie.
Apurva manages to make Rinku the eye-candy, the object of male desire of the town. She is just present there to please everyone with her underage beauty. The writer makes men who are much older to her, go crazy for her. The desire which Rinku’s schoolteacher has for her makes it unpalatable for the audience.
Apurva is unable to keep up the story. A lot could have been derived out of the plot to create laughter. Billu’s confession of his love for Rinku among paan-chewing politicians could have incited laughter. But the writer fails to see this proposition.
Chaman Bahaar has many sub-plots which are a dead-end. It tires you out. You always have this feeling that the subplot will culminate into something which is useful for the main plot. This is the reason why stories have subplots. To support the main plot. You keep on waiting and waiting for it to happen. But it never does. Apurva has dashed the hope of his audience.
As a director, Apurva walks on thin eggshells. He saves Chaman Bahaar from becoming a movie where the ways of men are glorified but he also never bothers to bring out Rinku’s part of the story. This makes the movie an unpleasant watch especially if you are a grown-up.
The acting of Jitendra Kumar as Billu is spot-on. He blends into the small-town milieu effortlessly making himself the only high-point of the movie.
The lack of pace in the movie will intensify the drudgery. Chaman Bahaar gets sluggish after a point of time. With an uneven narrative, the movie becomes something that resembles a joke in the locker room.
What gives an authentic feel to the movie is the right characters, the right setting, and their tone. The small-town essence is captured in an impressive manner. But there will be this lingering feeling that the characters were not utilized to their potential.
The cinematography of the movie is good. Overview shots of the town, the dusty roads, the paan shop, all the things have been captured in a way that they retain their identity. The editing seems to be a little sluggish.
Music by Mangesh Dhakde and Anshuman Mukherjee gives provides some soothing to the otherwise uncomfortable plot. They both have done a good job of providing the right music at the right point in time.
Chaman Bahaar barely scratches the surface of a meaningful take on something which is so deeply disturbing. As an audience, you will continuously feel that the movie will take you somewhere meaningful. But it fails to do so. This is what makes Chaman Bahaar a painfully slow movie that fails at clicking with the audience.
There are chances that you might click go back to watch the movie for Jeetendra Kumar’s acting, otherwise, the movie is a one-time watch.