777 Charlie Movie Review: A celebration of unconditional love and loyalty
At a time when high-octane action films are ruling the roost, Kiranraj convincingly reminds us to open our hearts to heartwarming simple stories
In The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin says, "In this world, there is room for everyone. And the good Earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but... we have lost the way." These words echo true even after eight decades, and it is these words that fuel the journey of Dharma and Charlie, the leads of Kiranraj's heartwarming adventure drama, 777 Charlie.
Cast: Rakshit Shetty, Charlie, Sangeeth Sringeri, Raj B Shetty
While Hollywood frequently celebrates human-animal bonding in their films, Indian cinema doesn't really go all out at it. For instance, dogs are predominantly either used in revenge dramas where they do over-the-top things like plot with other animals to avenge their master's death or just appear in cameos in investigative thrillers sniffing out the clues to nab the bad guys. We might remember director Dinesh Baboo, who was one of the first filmmakers to use a dog as a pivotal character in his film, Nishabdha. Recently, we saw Naanu Mathu Gunda, which did have a nuanced portrayal of human-animal bonding. But the strong emotional core of 777 Charlie makes Kiranraj's debut directorial stand tall.
The film is about Dharma (Rakshit Shetty), a loner with a past, who is forlorn, aggressive, and takes to the bottle like a fish to water. He is derisively mocked as 'Hitler' by his neighbours and at his workplace. When a stray dog (Charlie) enters Dharma's life, things take an interesting, hilarious, and many a time, emotional turn. However, things start off patchy between Dharma and Charlie. From seeking help from veterinarian Ashwin Kumar (Raj B Shetty) to get leads for an adoption to Devika (Sangeetha Sringeri), an officer at an animal welfare centre, who gives Charlie the name, there are characters that come in at the right time to facilitate the bond between Dharma and Charlie.
From looking for ways to let go of Charlie, to making him the most integral part of his life, Dharma's life takes a positive U-turn that enriches his life. However, circumstances and narrative choices make his happiness short-lived, and from here, 777 Charlie becomes an adventure drama that sees Dharma and Charlie go on expeditions across the country. From the snow-capped mountains in the Himalayas and the people-filled landscape of many other places, 777 Charlie takes us on a journey that reaffirms the belief in unconditional love, and how a dog named Charlie just changed the lives of many due to the purity of its heart.
At a time when high-octane action films are ruling the roost, Kiranraj convincingly reminds us to open our hearts to heartwarming but simple stories. While there are scenes that needed a bit more fleshing out, some of these flaws can be ignored because of the heart of the director that is seen through each and every scene of this almost 3-hour-long film.
Dharma isn't a one-dimensional character, and Rakshit strikes a superb balance in portraying the role and its various shades. He plays off Charlie, whose soul and spontaneity, make you want to consider having such a companion for yourself. Their equation is definitely the soul of the film and it is amusing, evocative, and manages to wring out tears with ease.
Although the film is essentially about Dharma and Charlie, the presence of other people in this world aids in the personal development of Dharma. Be it the hilarious cameo of Raj B Shetty or the precocious young child Ardika (Sharvai), who is the first friendly person to Dharma and Charlie, and the assuredness of Sangeetha Sringeri's Devika, each character gets to play a vital role in 777 Charlie. In fact, even if the duration of the character was small, Tamil actor Bobby Simha's cameo as a loner with a dog is instrumental in Dharma realising his life has come a full circle.
One of the biggest strengths of 777 Charlie is definitely the hardworking technical team, which not just overcame logistical challenges but ensured the quality of work delivered was on point. If the music of Nobin Paul elevates the road-trip film, then cinematographer Aravind Kashyap's work, especially in the Himalayan portions of 777 Charlie, makes the film into one for the ages.
Watching animals come into the life of humans to make the latter better might not be a new story after all, but in a world like ours, and in times like these, it is uplifting to see a film like 777 Charlie where unconditional love and loyalty from animals show us how within all humans, there is the propensity to be... well... loving.
777 Charlie is definitely an ode to dog lovers and Kiranraj, Rakshit and Co have crafted it in such a way that even if you are not one, watching this film just might make you revisit that stance.