Director: Satish Munda
Cast: Rahul Bhat, Priya Bapat, and ensemble.
Released in cinemas.
Chakki is a social drama about a commoner getting crushed by the system. Rahul Bhat plays this commoner Vijay who runs a flour mill. Mill means Chakki in Hindi. This is also symbolic of how any government system runs like a mill and how a commoner can get crushed in this system like a grain. Vijay gets a bill of whopping 1,60,000 rupees for one month for his flour mill. This changes his world upside down. He has to do rounds of the electricity department and Babus in the department to get his bill/meter corrected and go back to earning his living.
Vijay is one of many of us who have to perennially wait in a queue to get basic facilities and formalities done at a Sarkari office. Rahul Bhat plays this commoner Vijay with utmost sincerity. Priya Bapat as this aam aadmi’s aam girlfriend does best with what she gets to play. The rest of the cast members have to play the generic characters that you see in real life and films based on social issues. The characterization of all characters is generic. It usually works in films where you’re trying to make a social commentary on a system.
Vijay has a younger brother to educate, and an ailing father to treat, pay the bills and run the house. The plight is real. The intent is noble. But Chakki suffers a great deal of average execution. I can understand the reasons. It doesn’t have a big studio backing it. The lack of budget is visible in the film’s production design and cinematography. There’s inconsistency in the quality of frames. The film also struggles in its attempt to make this social drama palatable for a wider audience. There are formulaic romantic and sad songs in expected situations. That somehow hurts the pace of the film.
There’s always a point in any film where a film ‘kicks in’. This happens in the second half of Chakki. The narrative finds its rhythm and control. The writing is good with its observational humor. But it loses its punch in ‘filler’ scenes, like when Vijay has to explicitly show his frustration on how the whole system is corrupt. So, how do you fight the system/ win over the system? By hook or crook? Well, that you find out on your own when you watch the film.
The film is narrated by Rahul Ram from the band ‘Indian Ocean’ which has also composed music for the film. The narrator’s voice-over is like from the Hindi movies of the 70s and 80s slice-of-life movies. The film is set and shot in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The locations offer something new to be seen. There are some tragicomic moments that are handled well. The film moves at a chakki’s pace. I can understand that a government procedural moves at such a pace. But better control on handling that meandering pace would have benefitted the film. Overall, Chakki is noble in its intentions but average in its execution.