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In The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin says, “There is room in this world for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The path of life can be free and beautiful, but… we’ve lost the path.” Those words still ring true eight decades later, and it’s those words that define the journey of Dharma and Charlie, the protagonists of Kiranraj’s heartwarming Adventure drama “777 Charlie”, drive.
While Hollywood often celebrates the human-animal bond in its films, Indian cinema doesn’t really go all out. For example, dogs are predominantly used either in revenge dramas where they do over the top things like B. plotting with other animals to avenge their master’s death, or simply appearing in cameos in detective thrillers to sniff out the clues to catch the bad guys. We may remember director Dinesh Baboo, who was one of the first filmmakers to use a dog as the central character in his film Nishabdha. Recently we saw Naanu Mathu Gunda, which had a nuanced portrayal of the human-animal bond. But 777 Charlie’s strong emotional core elevates Kiranraj’s directorial debut.
The film is about Dharma (Rakshit Shetty), a loner with a past who is lonely, aggressive and picks up on the bottle like a fish on water. He was mocked as “Hitler” by his neighbors and at his workplace. When a stray dog (Charlie) enters Dharma’s life, things take an interesting, hilarious, and often emotional turn. However, things start out sketchy between Dharma and Charlie. From seeking help from veterinarian Ashwin Kumar (Raj B Shetty) to get advice on adoption, to Devika (Sangeetha Sringeri), an officer at an animal sanctuary who gives the name to Charlie, there are characters who belong to the right place Time come to help the connection between Dharma and Charlie.
From finding ways to let go of Charlie and make him the most important part of his life, Dharma’s life takes a positive turn that enriches his life. Circumstances and narrative choices make his happiness short-lived, however, and from here 777 Charlie evolves into an adventure drama where Dharma and Charlie go on expeditions across the country. From the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas and the crowded landscapes of many other places, 777 Charlie takes us on a journey that reaffirms belief in unconditional love and shows how a dog named Charlie changed the lives of many just because of the purity of his heart.
At a time when high-octane action movies rule, Kiranraj is a compelling reminder to open our hearts to heartwarming yet simple stories. While there are scenes that could use a bit more elaboration, some of these flaws can be ignored because of the director’s heart that shines through every single scene of this nearly 3-hour movie.
Dharma is not a one dimensional character and Rakshit strikes an excellent balance in portraying the role and its various shades. He plays Charlie, whose soul and spontaneity make you consider having such a companion for yourself. Her equation is definitely the soul of the film and it’s amusing, moving and manages to shed tears with ease.
Although the film is essentially about Dharma and Charlie, the presence of other people in this world helps in their personal development of Dharma. Be it the hilarious cameo appearance of Raj B. Shetty, the precocious child Ardika (Sharvai) who is the first kind person to Dharma and Charlie, and the poise of Sangeetha Sringeri’s Devika, each character plays an important role in 777 Charlie. While the character’s duration was short, Tamil actor Bobby Simha’s cameo as a loner with a dog is instrumental in Dharma realizing his life has come full circle.
One of 777 Charlie’s greatest strengths is definitely the hard working technical team who have not only overcome logistical challenges but also ensured the quality of the work delivered is spot on. If Nobin Paul’s music enhances the road trip film, then cinematographer Aravind Kashyap’s work, particularly in the Himalayan parts of 777 Charlie, makes the film a film for the ages. Watching animals enter people’s lives to improve them may not be a new story, but in a world like ours and times like these, it’s uplifting to see a movie like 777 Charlie, about unconditional love and loyalty seen in animals shows us how all human beings have a tendency to be…well…loving.
777 Charlie is definitely an ode to dog lovers, and Kiranraj, Rakshit and co have crafted it so that even if you aren’t, watching this film might make you reconsider that stance.
Cast: Rakshit Shetty, Charlie, Sangeeth Sringeri, Raj B. Shetty