OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Chandu Champion review: Kartik Aaryan elevates an uneven biopic with conviction

Kartik Aaryan's spirited performance keeps Kabir Khan's Chandu Champion biopic afloat

Chandu Champion review: Kartik Aaryan elevates an uneven biopic with conviction
Chandu Champion review

Last Updated: 11.46 AM, Jun 14, 2024

Chandu Champion story:

This is the incredible story of a man named Murlikant Petkar, played by Kartik Aaryan, whose unwavering determination allowed him to overcome every obstacle he encountered. He created history with his unflinching passion and refusal to give up.

Chandu Champion review:

Just before heading out for the screening of Chandu Champion, I took a chance to do a little research on Murlikant Petkar, on whom the story is based. This is Kabir Khan's tryst with reality, just nearly three years after the release of 83, which was based on India's 1983 Cricket World Cup win. With Chandu Champion, the filmmaker once again stepped out of his comfort zone, not only with the biographical approach but also with the actor he worked with. Not many filmmakers envision Kartik Aaryan taking on the role of a sportsman with severe disabilities. The actor has established himself as a leading figure in the romantic and comedy genres, and following Freddy, he now plays Chandu Champion. But has this become a career-defining film for Kartik? Let's find out...


Chandu Champion follows the typical biopic format, narrating the story through numerous timeline jumps and flashback sequences. The film opens in the 2010s with Kartik transforming into an older person, narrating the 50-year-long story of being an achiever and the pride of the country, yet not receiving his rightful recognition. If you read about Petkar, the story is beyond belief and truly inspirational. It's the story of a man who not only refuses to die in life but also maintains an optimistic attitude. It's the story of a multi-talented sports personality with his eye only on the Olympic gold medal; thus, he goes from becoming a boxer to a swimmer.  

However, Kabir, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sumit Arora and Sudipto Sarkar, took the creative liberty to the next level and detailed so much in two hours and 23 minutes that it became a slow-burn narrative. However, that doesn't have a positive impact on the film, which jumps timelines in such a way that each episode feels a little incomplete. As they rush to court, it appears that Petkar (Kartik), who narrates the story in a police station to Shreyas Talpade in the role of a cop, provides a brief summary. But what about the viewers? Even if each episode ends abruptly, the impact also doesn't last longer. 

In Bollywood, sports biopics have become a challenging genre, with not every underdog story yielding a triumphant impact on screen. But Kabir takes up the challenges once again, and he does succeed in creating the impact the narrative needs. For instance, the story revolves around a man who possesses a never-give-up attitude, and, similar to Petkar, the filmmaker fully concentrates on this character, thereby enhancing the overall effectiveness of the narrative. However, because Kartik serves as Petkar's focal point, the actor's physical appearance evokes memories of Kartik, not Petkar. But the efforts are visible and don't go in vain.

Kartik consistently challenges himself, not only in his boxing and swimming abilities but also in his delivery of dialogue. It can be somewhat distracting, as it evokes memories of his past roles in films such as Pyaar Ka Punchnama, which he can't seem to shake off. On the other hand, the Marathi dialect, which changes every 10 km, also remains inconsistent for the actor, as he leaves Islampur, a small village near Karad, when he was a teen and lives in Secunderabad, Kashmir, then Bombay, and so on. 

In an underdog sports story, there's always a friend and a coach who are equally focused, like the main character. Chandu Champion follows suit, with Bhuvan Arora portraying Garneil Singh, the best friend, and Vijay Raaz portraying Tiger Ali, the coach. Their mere presence makes the first half far more interesting, while also boosting Petkar's character.

However, the international games sequence in the first half will definitely remind you of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag's second half, when Farhan Akhtar, as Milkha Singh, misses his race because of a "one-night stand" with an unknown woman. Although not as severe as in Chandu Champion, a woman distracts the character.

Chandu Champion takes the liberty of showing India through a vintage lens, and it's definitely beautiful, with the lighting also reminding us that it's a flashback era. On the other hand, Pritam's music is nearly forgettable, with songs that will remind you of Jagga Jasoos and 83, even by appearance.

In terms of performances, Kartik has successfully made the film watchable, showcasing his charming presence and capturing the right attitude of a sportsman. However, Kartik still needs to clear up the baggage from his previous performances.

Talpade and Rajpal Yadav, in their special appearances, make a slight impact and deliver their expected performances. Meanwhile, Arora and Raaz uplift the first half and the latter in the second half, making you root for their characters too. 

Chandu Champion is not a story that seeps through entirely, but the work and efforts make the dispersed narrative watchable on screen. 

Chandu Champion verdict:

Chandu Champion dives into the pool of biopics with a spirited stroke, but his scattered storytelling occasionally treads water. Kartik Aaryan admirably wears the mantle of Murlikant Petkar, balancing charm with the grit of a determined athlete.

Get the latest updates in your inbox