Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cheeni Kum

What do you say about a two and a half hour movie that just got over ? That it was beautiful ? Brilliant ? Exquisite ? Or that it reminded me of Four Weddings and a Funeral or When Harry Met Sally or even the conversational brilliance of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, though not necessarily in that order ?

This movie is a novelty for India, a movie comprising mostly of intelligent, dialogue based humour rather than on situations (like Khosla ka Ghosla) or slapstick (most of the other Hindi movies that pretend to be comedies). Amitabh Bachchan is a crabby 64 year old chef / owner of an Indian restaurant in London. The first half depicts the growing relationship between himself and Tabu, a 34 year old woman from Delhi in London on a holiday. The second half primarily depicts Tabu’s 58 year old father, Paresh Rawal’s viewpoint on the relationship. There – that’s it as far as the story goes…nothing more, nothing less…

The true brilliance of the movie lies in the life / spark infused in even the simplest of situations or the simplest of characters. Whether it’s the interaction amongst the chef’s in the restaurant, the waiter hilariously nicknamed Colgate because of his protruding teeth and the jokes at their expense (‘iske liye dimaag ki zaroorat hai, daant ki nahin’, he is gently admonished on one occasion), the sardarji pharmacist and Amitabh’s interactions with him, Amitabh’s mom’s fascination with the gym in the face of her sons obvious reluctance to go anywhere near it, his acerbic comments on his mom’s cooking (‘yeh Tihar Jail waali daal ?’), Paresh Rawal’s love of cricket and Gandhism. I can go on and on. I was in near-hysterical splits on no less than 10 occasions. I’m still laughing as I remember some of the jokes….

And I haven’t even mentioned Amitabh and Tabu – their running joke around the umbrella, the ruthless way she teases him the first time he tries to ask her out, their almost every conversation was beautifully constructed. The movie also captures amazingly well the highs and lows of falling in love. Will she come or wont she ? Will she say yes ? The mood swings, the heartache and the sheer exhilaration and joy when its all ok, when you’re with your newfound love.

I think one of the casting coup’s of the movie was Tabu. I watched this movie with a school friend of mine (Prashant) and we discussed her at length after the movie. The parts of the conversation I can print here involved her sheer beauty, her classic features (high cheekbones, eyes) and her subtleness…her understated yet enigmatic presence. She brings reality and a certain mystique to her character, makes acting seem so easy. I don’t think there is another Bollywood actress who could have done justice to her role.

However, this doesn’t detract in any way from any of the other performances in the movie. Everyone was excellent – from Amitabh to Paresh Rawal to each chef / waiter in the restaurant, Amitabh’s neighbour and his daughter (a nice sub-plot here and at last we get a real child who talks like today’s kids actually do, unlike the saccharine mumblings of the girl in TaraRumPum). The music, with the title song playing constantly in the background, the settings (even Qutab Minar looks beautiful in the movie), everything, like spices, enhance the brilliance of the dialogue.

Take a bow, Mr Balki (an admaker and first time director). The entire audience gave a standing ovation when the movie ended. Is movie main kuch bhi kum nahin tha !


Anonymous said...

Tabu was great. There was a bit of a ICK factor seeing Amitabh in a romantic role. But that was also a part of teh attitude that the movie was trying to address.
The kid was horrible. They needed a stop gap character- someone who would make Amitabh reflect on what was right and wrong. But still too saccharine for me. The last scene near Ashoka Pillar could have been improved. Amitabh has done better emotional scenes.
Overall the movie was good- The storyline is a novelty. The lack of songs refreshing. The locales and characters were built carefully. It did remind me of When Harry met Sally and You've got mail.
But is definitely worth seeing twice.

Aarthi said...

thanks for the review :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, your post is a tribute to "Only Love". One of my all time favorite books.

Um, it was on purpose, was it not?

Priyank said...

I appreciate your efforts to give a review..yeah it might be an excellent movie.

Watt amazed me was...Qutab Minar doesn't look that ugly ki it requires a statement like 'even Qutab Minar looks beautiful'

Apurv Nagpal said...

hi ! Anonymous
the first para is actually trying to imitate the first para of Love Story (Erich Segal's masterpiece)

the last time i went to Qutab, it was spoilt for me by all the vendors / the crowd and even by the fact that it was so hot. i guess its a personal experience thing...will definitely go again and check it out


Ajj Kaim Singh said...

did u say that the girl "Sexy" behaved as kids behave these days?

I thought it was way over the top. constantly addressing others as "Tu.." and carrying all conversations with just one expression!

Unknown said...

Apurv I am seeing this movie after reading your review...let's see

Anonymous said...

I agree. Brilliant movie. As I read the review, I recalled all those jokes. Makes me go and see the movie (in theater, that too) again!

My review here:

Regs, DJ

Anonymous said...

Tabu had grt dialogues at her disposal but the delivery, atleast in the initial part of the movie was jittery.

the best part about the movie was the kid, brilliant in ur face kinda delivery.