I finally saw Cheeni Kum with much trepidation. I say that for two reasons (a) anything half way different is lauded as the next big thing and (b) the film got crazy reviews. But that’s true for most films these days and I think the term good cinema is almost oxymoronic. Back to Cheeni Kum that is a ‘sugar free’ tale of love between a 64-year-old man and a 34-year woman. The man’s a chef and is genetically loud and boisterous. He is unforgiving about 90% of the times just like his quirky mother. The only time this desi Gordon Ramsay is chilled out is the time he spends with his eight-year-old neighbor whom he fondly (?) calls Sexy. The May-December couple meets in London where the dude has his restaurant and fall in love. Finally they decide to hook up and the girl’s father (four years younger than the man she intends to hook with) obviously has major problems. He pseudo-Gandhian goes on a Satyagraha to dissuade his daughter only to give in at an opportune moment.
The reviews were very bittersweet to Ad-man Balki’s maiden effort and the only major hassle they had was with the second half of the film. I didn’t have a major issue with the second half or the first half. The only problem I had with the script was the over smart eight year old girl who wants to see adult DVD’s. The character is suffering from cancer but still I don’t like the thought of terminally ill characters living their entire life in 14 reels. And on top of it I don’t like over-smart kids in films. People might find the antics of this kiddo bittersweet and perhaps cute but the irritating kid is like a win-zipped version of everything obnoxious and manages to piss the hell out of you at times when you don’t expect it. I have this major complaint against writers/ filmmakers who want to put everything in one film.
The reviews went to town saying that the Satyagraha angle doesn’t work and rightfully so. It’s so asinine in it’s execution that Paresh Rawal ends up looking like he wandered off from a different film set to this one accidentally. Had the director handled the reservations of a father watching his daughter wanting to a man elder than himself, the ending would have looked more up market. There’s nothing wrong in this kind of an ending, it’s a Hindi film and what else were Nikhat Kazmi and Co. expecting? It’s almost like Dil Chata Hain revisited; the last reel was as filmy as it could get. Everything was OK and acceptable but the ending…what was the need for Mr. Bachchan’s character to howl like a kid when he learnt about his eight year old neighbor’s tragic death and tell his mother that he wants sexy (the kid’s nickname)!
I liked Cheeni Kum in spite of the issues I might seem to have. It was perhaps because I went in with such low expectations that I was bound to like it! This is my approach to Hindi films now- have zero expectations and voila every film would end up being a nice experience! The film is exactly the kind of film I’d love to see Mr. Bachchan in. He is 100 times better than his Sexy Sam from Kabhie Alvida Nahin Kehna or the loud defense lawyer from Shootout at Lokhandwala. Some people might have an issue with Mr. Bachchan’s at times over the top histrionics but it’s OK for he’s perhaps the biggest star of them all and it suits him. And in case you really want to see Mr. Bachchan go over the top then see Black again! These are the kinds of roles that he should do as opposed to his Sexy Sam in which he ends up looking like a glorified extra, something that doesn’t go well with stature. The inter-action between Mr. Bachchan and Zohra Sehgal, who plays his mother, is peppy most of the times and has numerous nice moments.
Recently voted the best-dressed man in India by a magazine, the retro-sexual, moto-sexual or whatever the hell Abhishek Bachchan is this week sadly isn’t a patch on Mr. Bachchan, who looks dapper in Cheeni Kum. Tabu and Mr. Bachchan share a very instant and likable chemistry. These two wonderful acting talents skillfully support the transformation of their characters from friends to lovers. Having said this I think Tabu needs to do something about her acting. A very fine and competent actor but she ends up playing Tabu in almost everything she does. This character of Nina could very well be Mumtaz from Chandni Bar in different clothes. It’s rather tragic and my brother summed it up- Tabu looks nice only when she cries.
Image Courtesy: www.cheenikum.com