Starring Gurdas Maan, Rana Ranbir, and Gaurav Kakkar. In Punjabi with English subtitles. Rated PG.
The long-languishing Chak Jawana (it was finished in 2008) finally gets a worldwide theatrical release courtesy of Bollywood’s Reliance Big Pictures. But the film, which tackles the widespread problem of drug abuse among Punjabi youth, is an uneven effort that sugarcoats the issue rather than addressing it head-on.
Watch this teaser from Chak Jawana.
Veteran Punjabi film and music star Gurdas Maan plays Indian navy captain Gurjeet Singh, who is forced to return to his native village in Punjab after learning that his baby brother Raja (model Gaurav Kakkar) has become a drug addict. Raja spends most of his waking hours with a group of wayward and idle young men who ride around, getting drunk and high, and constantly get into trouble.
Gurjeet makes it his mission to get these lost boys on the right track but his initial efforts prove futile as they sink deeper and deeper into addiction and trouble. When he tries the silent treatment, the men begin to rethink their actions and begin the process of change.
While some of the addiction and waywardness rings true, their transformation is hokey and feels forced. Gurjeet’s challenge to the addicts is that if they want his forgiveness, they have to defeat a top village volleyball team. It’s hard to fathom that these drug addicts can improve so drastically in 20 days and defeat their fit athletic opponents in a public match intended to represent the men conquering their demons.
Maan brings his enormous talents to the role of the saviour but the substandard material lets him down. Newcomer Kakkar is passable while writer-actor Rana Ranbir (Master) stands out among the addicts. The rest of the cast, though, is like this film: looking for direction.