Chandu Champion Review: Kartik Aaryan at His Peak in This Inspiring Sports Drama

chandu champion review

It is often said that one should leave the table if respect is not served. But what if, instead, you choose to stay and compel others to recognize your presence? Kabir Khan’s film celebrates this tenacity, portraying the journey of becoming a champion even when the world dismisses you as a nobody.

The story oscillates between past and present, taking us through Petkar’s life from the 1950s to 2018, when he was finally awarded the Padma Shri. From nurturing an Olympic dream in childhood to navigating a love-hate relationship with fate and God, Petkar’s life is marked by survival against the odds and resilience in the face of devastation.

The film carries the free-flowing nature of “Forrest Gump” and the essence of “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,” yet it feels uniquely rebellious, lacking a clear cause or conflict. Ridicule fuels Petkar’s aggression, giving him an outlet for his talent and persistence. His defiant question, “Hasta kayko hai?” ignites his inner fire. For him, a medal equates to respect.

Unlike typical sports biopics that follow an athlete’s journey in a single sport, Kabir Khan’s film is about a man who desperately seeks an Olympic medal, trying his hand at wrestling, boxing, and swimming. This ambition, seemingly preposterous and overly ambitious, adds an element of fun to the narrative. Petkar’s delusional self-belief makes you wonder if this level of determination is necessary to envision oneself as a champion, even when others do not.

Kartik Aaryan’s ambition to be taken seriously as an actor mirrors the inner turmoil of the character he portrays. Kabir Khan’s choice of Kartik as the lead is a clever casting move. Kartik displays considerable restraint and spontaneity, bringing an ease to his character not seen before. His uninhibited performance in “Satyanaas,” a well-shot train song, stands out. Alongside his physical transformation, he convincingly portrays the character’s emotional journey. Bhuvan Arora deserves special mention as Petkar’s likable sidekick, while Rajpal Yadav and Vijay Raaz add depth to the story. However, the music in this sports drama could have been more inspiring.

Kabir Khan excels in creating feel-good cinema, and “Chandu Champion” (CC) fits this mold. From Salman Khan in “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” to Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev in “83” and now Kartik as Petkar, Khan extracts the best from mainstream actors, infusing humor, sports, and earnestness into his stories. However, he could delve deeper into the characters’ inner conflicts. The focus on external events rather than internal struggles sometimes makes the narrative monotonous, diminishing the impact of the climax. While “CC” is engaging and heartwarming, it tends to follow a familiar template. Staying the course is fine, but breaking the rules can lead to more compelling storytelling.