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777 Charlie: This Rakshit Shetty film, featuring a female Labrador, is all heart

If you are a dog lover or even if you aren’t, 777 Charlie, directed by Kiranraj, will tug at your heartstrings.

  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 08.54 AM, Jun 10, 2022

777 Charlie: This Rakshit Shetty film, featuring a female Labrador, is all heart
Stills from 777 Charlie

This Kiranraj-directorial opens with a thank you note to the multi-hyphenate Charlie Chaplin, and a dog called Charlie. You hear a voice-over: “If you're lucky, a dog will come into your life; steal your heart, and change everything.” Dharma (Rakshit Shetty) is that fortunate person, and Charlie is that four-legged companion, who magically transforms Dharma's life, for the better.

An untamed man becomes good-natured, because of the sheer experience a dog brings into his life. This is kind of meditative. A film like 777 Charlie will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever had a pet in their life and maybe even move you to tears at some point. A plethora of films have been made about man's best friend and our connection to them. Yet, there's an audience for dog-based scripts.

Dharma is a loner and leads a monotonous life. The house he stays in has worn-out interiors, faded furnishing, broken chairs and sofas. Those objects are pretty much life-less like Dharma. All the man does is drink, smoke, step out for work, come back home and sleep. He does not seem to enjoy anything but Charlie Chaplin films. That is his only source of entertainment. Nobody in the colony (where he stays) likes Dharma—the elderly, middle-aged and even children. It's the same where he works, too. But Charlie is obsessed with him. She follows him wherever he goes. Charlie licks Dharma's face like how a child licks a lollipop. They say you can usually tell that a man is good if he has a dog who loves him, right? When everyone hates Dharma for what he is not, Charlie loves him for what he is.

It is ironic how Dharma watches Charlie Chaplin films all day; yet, doesn't have a smile on his face. On the other hand, there's this adorable Charlie, who takes the centre stage with her special ability to bring a smile to people's faces.

So, the early part of 777 Charlie, shows how a female Labrador (with a look in her eyes so sad it could melt the hardest of hearts) walks into Dharma's life. He is perennially tired, but Charlie is full of life. The film is essentially about these two contrasting characters.

Not even in his wildest dreams, Dharma thought he'd be pushed into the circumstance of grooming a dog. But, eventually, that's what he signs up for. From detesting her presence to taking her on a road trip, Dharma not only experiences a roller coaster of emotions but also gently embraces them. For him, Charlie is a major part of his life. But for Charlie, her whole world revolves only around Dharma. Though he's not receptive to her earlier, he slowly opens up his life to Charlie, who needed a home, and that's one of the most fulfilling things a person can do.

All of a sudden, Dharma falls sick. Only then, he realises Charlie's unconditional love for him. There's been no looking back since then. 777 Charlie reminded me of the famous Japanese tale of Hachiko, in a few places. That inexplicable feeling of being loved by a dog! You can’t help but just sit back—and strap in for an exhilarating ride. As an audience, you enjoy it as much as Dharma does. 

The film is impactful and pacy due to the lack of verbosity and reliance on visual drama. Dharma has been inspired by Chaplin, a pioneer and an enduring inspiration to many others. Imagine making people roll in their seats and laugh during difficult times... That too with just gestures and expressions! Similarly, Charlie, the dog, made a difference in Dharma's life with the same gestures and expressions, when he least expected it. 

At the heart of the film is a cliched (or classic?) story of an unlikely man-canine friendship. 777 Charlie is reflective of the simplicity and rawness of their bond. Dharma loses his family members in a car accident while growing up. Even after many years, those memories kept haunting him. I like how Dharma’s character has been designed. That’s how someone behaves when he’s consumed by grief and sadness. One second, he’s okay; the next second he’s not. Dharma’s emotions oscillate all the time, and it is wonderful how Charlie recognises them in Dharma and also responds to him. 

Undoubtedly, Charlie, is the principal selling point in this simple yet affecting film. With soft fur and expressive big brown eyes, she is a show-stealer!

777 Charlie is beautifully shot and acted. Rakshit Shetty is a revelation as Dharma. The film reminds you that nature is both a source of intimidation and comfort. Whatever they go through, in the second half, is poignant, powerful and heartbreakingly profound all at once. Towards the end, the film indulges you in magnificent landscapes, which are a delight to savour on the big screen.

The climax portions of Charlie will linger on in your minds long after the final scene. You will cry, for real. Guaranteed. Kiranraj filters our world through a dog's eyes—arguably the most objective perspective possible. Dharma feels the truest and purest form of love in Charlie. That’s about it. That, in essence, is the story we see. The most endearing moments in the film are when Dharma and Charlie are together!

777 Charlie moves you, as much as it makes you laugh. It's not necessary to have a profound plot, say, for a film that features a superstar, just as you don't need a superstar if the story is compelling. Here, the superstar is none other than Charlie.

(This Rakshit Shetty-starrer also features, pup Charlie, Raj B Shetty, Sangeetha Sringeri, Danish Sait and Bobby Simha in key roles. The film, which hit the screens on June 10, is distributed by Karthik Subbaraj in Tamil.)