High school can be a lot of things to people but simply put: it’s tough out here. Even more for the college hunters. We all know them— those who want that top-notch grade and simultaneously juggle multiple AP classes, clubs, and sports. All part of an ambitious goal to get into the top universities. In India, the path to the top colleges doesn’t entail strong extra-curricular activities or classes. Students have to sit for the entrance exam of the college they are applying to. One exam measures all they have done for years past and strongly influences how their life will be in the future.
The movie Chhichore opens with Raghav, a high-achieving student stressing out whilst waiting for his results. Unfortunately, despite all the worry, Raghav fails to get into the Indian Institute of Technology. Raghav breaks down emotionally— he thinks everyone will call him and his parents, Aniruddh and Maya, losers. As his entire future is seemingly destroyed, Raghav gives up— he attempts to kill himself. The fall from the apartment almost kills him but he is barely admitted into a hospital. His situation is critical and the doctors say patients like him only survive if they have the will to, but Raghav has given up. In a last-ditch effort, his father Aniruddh, who is an alumnus of IIT, narrates the story of how he was still a loser despite getting in and why he is okay with it. On the campus of IIT, being victorious in the annual sports competition gives bragging rights to the winning hostel. Aniruddh or ‘Anni’, as he was called on campus, was part of H4, the hostel which hadn’t won in years and had the title of the loser. Anni and his friends were tired of the oppression against them by H1, the frequent winners. The majority of the movie shows the strategic thinking and camaraderie they use in order to have a fighting chance. Regardless of whatever happens, the friendships that Anni develops with his friends are lifelong whereas the ‘loser’ title is temporary.
I would rate this movie a 9 out of 10. The movie delivers an important moral lesson: putting a lot of effort into something is a personal victory in and of itself, rather than just what the result is. Chhichhore also carries a strong social message by bringing attention to student stress and burnout-related suicides. As such, the movie’s gestured advice is to tell all students to not take life too seriously and value their interpersonal relationships.