When a LOSER wins hands down
Chhichhore comes across as simple story well told through the life
and times of seven engineering college friends. But deep down, it also goes on
to give invaluable parenting lessons explains Ajay Dev Singh
In his latest outing Chhichhore, filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari manages to pull off a spirited tale about a bunch of college friends, who come together after decades to cheer a young man knocked down by his failure, helping him rise and shine again.
The story about a divorced couple Aniruddh Pathak aka Anni (Sushant Singh Rajput) and Maya (Shraddha Kapoor), their son Raghav (Mohammad Samad) and couple’s buddies – Sexa (Varun Sharma), Acid (Naveen Polishetty), Mummy (Tushar Pandey), Derek (Tahir Raj Bhasin), Bevda (Saharsh Kumar) – has the engineering college, National Institute of Engineering (NIE) in Mumbai, taking centre stage of their lives, past and present, and also the plot. The storyline seamlessly moves back and forth on the theme of success and failure through the lives of the main characters, and how they manage to drive home an important lesson – what differentiates success from failure – for the estranged couple’s teenage son. The young boy had tried to end his life by jumping off a terrace after failing to clear the engineering entrance exam. He was weighed down by his parents’ achievement, who were both rank holders in the engineering entrance exam, and who then went on to study at the prestigious engineering college in the country. He tried hard to emulate their success story in his life by virtually cutting off himself from everything else to immerse in studies for two long years and slogging hard for the entrance test. But in vain. When the results were out, his name didn’t figure in the list of selected candidates. Visibly disturbed by the poor show, the young boy felt he had let down his parents. He feared being dubbed a LOSER and tried to commit suicide, only to land in the hospital with severe injuries to his brain and other vital organs.
On the medical front, the doctors had an uphill task as the boy was showing no signs of improvements because he had lost the will to live. The feeling of not getting in the engineering college was bogging him down, both psychologically, and emotionally, becoming a major impediment in his recovery. The father who had by then figured out what led his son to take the extreme step started course correction, almost immediately. The therapy to be administered was a leaf out of his life and he then meanders through the lanes and bylanes of memories with his bunch of engineering college friends aka LOSERS, who come together from all over the world, to breathe in a new lease of life in a heartbroken and distraught Raghav, give him hope and infuse positivity to keep his chin up, always, no matter how and come what may. Rest everything else too will fall into place at its own pace.
The bunch of LOSERS, Anni and his friends, start off by giving a sneak peek into their good old days at NIE and all that came with their newfound freedom – cussing, smoking, drinking, entertaining ragging, good-humoured bullying, mischiefs, laughter and banter in abundance, canteen outings, dalliances and alliances, and even shagging. They paint a realistic picture of college life as it was during their times. Together they also tell Raghav why they had earned the tag of LOSERS. It was because they lived in Hostel number 4 (H4) at NIE that never had the chance to win the General Championship where 10 hostels competed in 30 sports over two months in all the years since it was established. But the LOSERS dared to challenge the status quo with their ingenuity only to lose the Championship by a whisker but winning hearts all over with their sportsman spirit. Together they exhort what one learns from sports – discipline, respect, the right attitude, perseverance and endurance, camaraderie, patience, leadership skills, resilience and teamwork – in ample measures. Like sports, the film also teaches to celebrate one’s triumphs but lose with dignity, learn from one’s mistakes and make a fresh start. There’s always another chance. And that’s how Anni, Maya, Sexa, Acid, Mummy, Bevda, and Derek give invaluable lessons on success and failure that too through the power of storytelling to Raghav, who rises above the odds only to shine brighter and makes it to an engineering college in his next attempt. Mind you, parents, if success is all about winning, then failure is about not trying hard enough.
1. Celebrate failures too: In our rush to succeed, we pay attention to only those who make the cut, but royally ignore those who fail. Do we even realise that this attitude can cost a precious life? Every year, more than 10 lakh students sit for engineering entrance exams, but only 10K make it to the list. Does this mean that the rest 9.90 lakh students are nincompoops? No, they are not. Give them enough courage and strength to take failures in their stride, and not get knocked down, but rise above them.
2. Prepare in advance: While you preparing your children to succeed and hoping to host a success party or rewarding your child if he or she gets A+ in all subject, or a gold medal in Olympiad, or gets through the entrance exam, do spare a thought what if he or she doesn’t. How do you intend to deal with such an adverse situation yourself and how will your kid cope up as well? What will you do to boost his or her morale? What will you say? How will you explain it to your child so that he or she doesn’t take failure to heart? It is wise to prepare well. A stitch in time will save you nine if you arm your child suitably for failure too. It will do good to one and all.
3. Accept it: The step that leads to dejection and disappointment is the denial of one’s strengths and weaknesses. In a mad rush to leave others behind, and win the rat race, we master the art of denial. We forget to accept our strengths and weaknesses and that is what becomes a bane of our living that we pass on to our children as well. Let’s teach them to strengthen their strengths and weaken their weaknesses so that they succeed in whatever they choose to do, and with aplomb.
4. Talk it out: How often do we as parents speak of our failures? Seldom because we want to become that successful role model for our children. That we surely are, but it pays to give a realistic rundown of your follies. If nothing, it will give enough ammo to your children to learn from them, and learn well in time and avoid or manoeuvre their way through them in their lives. Do tell them when you failed in Maths exams or forgot your lines on the stage or when you missed a goal in a football match that cost your team the trophy. Walk them through your life and its lessons, but ensure that the details that you dish out to your children are age-appropriate. Giving your children an honest account of your life story will help them take cues that will stand them in good stead later. It is a good exercise.
5. Plan well: The process of selection sees many eliminations. We have learned it the hard way that for every selection, many others have to face elimination, but it doesn’t mean all those who have been eliminated have failed too. Because failure is not making a sincere and honest attempt, not trying hard enough. We must always remember that failure to score marks or not being able to get selected for an entrance exam is not the end of the road, neither for you nor your child. Once you understand it yourself, you might be able to explain it to your child too. As parents, we have the onerous task of capitalising on our child’s strength, preparing them well to face the situation, and at the same time keeping a backup plan in place just in case if things don’t turn out as expected. So be well-armed and in advance.
The life lessons are woven through these characters and the entire cast does full justice through clever performances, ably supported by the smart screenplay and witty dialogues, interesting prosthetics, makeup and costumes, sharp editing in flipping the story through the past and present, and promising direction. All these make it a film must watch for all, especially parents. Let’s become the wind beneath our children’s wings so that they can soar high in the sky. Let’s not lose an opportunity to tell our children that they matter to us more than marks, grades, and medals. Let’s tell them loud and clear that life is beautiful, and they should learn to live every moment of it, laughing and loving all that comes along. That’s the way to be.
(The writer is a senior digital marketing professional, father of two little girls and movie buff)