If you did not believe Mahesh Babu when he figuratively said to Trisha, in Athadu, that we all like Benz, but eventually, we buy Ambassador, then urgently go and watch Chammak Challo. The film is a visual elaboration on that thought-provoking Trivikram gem. There is an underlying message, that is for those who are patient to sit through an otherwise sensible but B-grade film (we don't call it B-grade just because it is a low-budget movie with no star face in its cast. Massy flicks which are not meant to be logical, too, deserve to be called B-grade), that is delivered towards the end: we do unconsciously get trapped in our fantasies and often fail to differentiate between the reality and fantasy, being carried away by fascination, or infatuation, if you would have it.
The film begins with Avasarala Srinivas, an NRI and aspiring film maker, being lectured by a producer to watch all the great romantic classics and get the inspiration to wise up a love story. Having derived nothing from Maro Charitra to Magadheera, he fortuitously bumps into Sayaji Shinde (as college lecturer Apparao Agarwal), who starts narrating a real love story of one 'ammayi' and 'abbayi' (not heroine and hero, mind it).
Unlike the way it happens routinely, Shyam and Ashu were enthusiastically (and purposelessly) made to fall in love by the good lecturer himself. He tried his best to create feelings in them for each other, but to no avail. On a tour to Kadapa (courtesy budget constraints), Shyam was enlightened by a Nature loving photographer, who says that if one looks at the other person (invariably belonging to the opposite sex, of course) through the lens of love, one is sure to find his romantic pair. Shyam is now a changed man and he starts seeing Ashu in a new (romantic) way.
Friendship blossoms into love without much delay, but with too many songs (yes, three outmoded songs in the first half not only harass us, but also make one feel that an offbeat director like Neelakantha feels picturizing songs is like a punishment given to himself), it looks like it took eons to happen.
Exactly at the interval bang when Avasarala Srinivas says 'Beautiful!' (wonder what is so beautiful about their love story so far), Sayaji reveals that Varun and Ashu are not going to marry after all. The second half is about what went wrong and the climax is about how the love story ends with the wannabe director playing a role.
The second half, like the first half, could have done away with the old-fashioned songs. Otherwise, as another character is introduced, the film does inspire some interest, only to become tacky now and then.
Neelakantha is a good writer, but the story is not exciting enough to hold our interest. Varun Sandesh's vacillating behavior is a treat to watch, with the film laced with intelligent dialogue and neat humour at a few places. It is a story with some rare moments - a kiss to his girl friend makes him feel guilty; his mood shifts between a 'yes' and a 'no', now that ambivalence has got the better of him; he has a weakness for calling the name of the person who is on his mind most of the time.
Technically Chammak Challo is the opposite of the glittering connotation of the title. If the music is sub par, the visuals are off colour. Cinematography is not imaginative.
The performances are just about average, but Sanchita Padukone takes the cake for her girl-next-door demeanor and unpretentiousness. One feels for her when she sobs. Varun Sandesh's talent has for long been wasted in chocolate boy roles, which may not be his cup of tea if the director is not a Kammula. We pray that an unconventional writer pens an experimental story for him and wherein he has an innocent charmer-turned-serial psychopath's role with a gory past written. (If it is a dumb character with him speaking only in the flashback, it will be even more lovely). We are serious!
Catherine Tresa looks cool. Sayaji Shinde fails in an elaborate role and given the fact that he can't show much variation, he proves a wrong choice. Vennela Kishore is a natural in whatever he does, but he gets less screen time.
Verdict: A film with few cute moments and that works only in bits and pieces, CC could have been helped by better songs, an imaginative narrative and less at least twenty minutes of duration.