An immensely watchable and fun first half, doesn't get the best support thereafter.
Last Updated: 04.08 AM, Jun 10, 2022
Story: When a young (nameless) pup meets Dharma (Rakshit Shetty) it’s love at first sight for her. He isn’t charmed at first, but is forced to be her caretaker for a few days until the neighbourhood vet can find a suitable home for her. From counting down to the day he can get rid of the dog, Dharma goes on to have an unbreakable bond with the canine that he then calls Charlie. 777 Charlie is this transformative tale of a man and a dog and how love trumps everything else.
Review: 777 Charlie is a film for pet lovers and will hopefully convert a few others into treating animals with more dignity, says the team. Going by the response to the film on social media, it would seem everyone’s loving it. Well, I did too, initially, only to be disappointed with the second half.
I have not had a pet in two decades; an apartment life is not for a dog, I reckon. But I have been there done that, as far as raising pets go and to date, my heart melts at the sight of a four-legged furry friend. So, it’s not that I am stone-cold and insensitive to the emotions that the film brings. And yet, 777 Charlie did not work for me – debutant director Kiranraj K lets down his leading man Rakshit Shetty with a poorly-thought-out plot.
That’s not to say the film’s bad from the word go. The first half is immensely watchable and fun. Whether it is Rakshit’s characterization as Dharma, the reason he is the way he is – leading a mundane life that revolves around the factory he works at, the trips to buy two idlis and cigarettes at the neighbourhood roadside stall and guzzling loads of beer. Dharma’s not the friendly type; the kind that not even a dog would take a fancy too, reckon the people in the residential colony he lives at. And then, the unthinkable happens – a dog actually takes a liking to him. The feeling’s not mutual at first, but gets there soon enough. Dharma’s relationship with the dog, who goes from being called Tsss Tsss to Charlie, and how the canine turns him around is the cornerstone of this tale and its most interesting bit.
Kiranraj’s attempt to then put the spotlight on the menace of illegal breeding, with inbreeding and pups of poor health, is quite noble. But where he takes the story thereafter isn’t quite so. There is a reason that Dharma takes Charlie on a journey of a lifetime – let’s not forget that; the why Dharma and Charlie headed to the snow-capped mountain. There’s a twist at the end of the film that’s meant to melt the hearts of audiences and have them forget the ‘why’. I was appalled at that rather ‘cruel’ twist, given what Charlie is going through. It’s not what any true pet lover would allow to happen. But that’s the cinematic liberty Kiranraj takes – there’s no mother, father or sister sentiment to build on, so let’s milk the dog for what it’s worth. No harm in doing that; it could have been done better though.
777 Charlie is almost three hours long; that’s a lot for a dog movie and the editor should have, perhaps, been given a wee bit more leeway to chop away. The film is, no doubt, a passion project for Kiranraj, so he’s kept every detail that he’s conceived in it. Trouble is, not everyone will see it the way he does. Like Danish Sait’s cameo, for instance; he didn’t have to be in the film, while Bobby Simha’s role could have benefitted from a little more finesse.
The film belongs to two people – Rakshit Shetty and music composer Nobin Paul – and the dogs playing Charlie. Put together, these three hold the story together and make it worth your while. Rakshit deserves applause not only for his portrayal of Dharma, but also for having the conviction to bring this tale to the big screen. It’s a novel attempt; one that not many would dare to do. Nobin’s put his heart and soul into the music (especially the background tunes) of the film, making him the true star of 777 Charlie. Imagine some of those emotional scenes without that score; can’t right? Nobin's score has given the rating a bonus point.
Verdict: I walked out of the movie hall last night with mixed feelings about 777 Charlie. I loved the first half, but didn’t thereafter; a sentiment that was echoed by others at the screening that I couldn’t help but overhear while waiting for the elevator. Does that make it a bad film? No. It is a good film, but one that had the potential to be so much better. Kudos to the team, though, for daring to do something different from the run-of-the-mill stories that hit theatres week after week. It's a refreshing change. Thank you for that.