A still from Chalo Dilli
Cast: Lara Dutta, Vinay Pathak
Directed by Shashant Shah
Films have always capitalised on misfit jodis for generations. From 'Beauty and the Beast' to 'Laurel and Hardy', one has observed that painfully different people collectively make great cinema. There is just something about every 'ugly' that drives every 'pagli' insane and capturing just that makes a great popcorn watch.
Our unarguably disparate couple here include Mr 'Buffoon bhaisaab' aka Manu Gupta (Vinay Pathak), a saree trader from Chandni Chowk and Mrs 'La-di-da behenji' aka Mihika Mukherjee (Lara Dutta), an investment banker with a penchant for vanity. The two are thrown together as their flight from Mumbai to Delhi is diverted to Jaipur and their journey to reach their final destination becomes an unending yet delightful trip.
Manu is man of thousand words and each and every one of them is politically incorrect and usually shamelessly intrusive, if not offensive. While Mihika is a selectively social, emotionally guarded, career woman. Predictably, the two end up making hilarious conversations trying to poke fun of each other's worlds and trying little to understand or appreciate each other. Yet, like every journey transforms its travelers, this one too eventually gets 'bhaisaab' and 'behenji' to tolerate, respect and even like each other (this isn't a love story, they're both married to their respective partners). The film flows beautifully till the end, when a forced twist to justify Manu's exceptionally cheerful side reduces this film to a typical masala flick. Every good has to have a bad? May be. But every happy has to be secretly nursing a grief? Formula number…?
Lara's hair and make-up has to be dust-proof, wind-proof, retarded-gag-proof etc. If it wasn't, she couldn't look just the same when she wakes up at a scruffy dhaba after a rather adventurous night, like she did when she steps out of her AC luxury car before embarking on this journey. Also her wardrobe seems to be prepared for every eventuality. So even when she's stranded with just the pair she had on, she slithers out of it to reveal an unobjectionable corset that doubles for an alternate pair.
In true 'Bheja Fry' style, Vinay's character is annoyingly inquisitive and a recipe for disaster. His ingenious plans come to naught every single time but his inimitable wit and timing only puffs the wind out of every messy situations.
The film is a clear winner for its spontaneous dialogues that work well also for the timing. The music is bearable if not enjoyable, while Yana Gupta's gyrating stunner, 'Laila' might have many takers. The journey in the film also conveys the thrill of exploring the unknown and inspires one to plan a getaway to one of the many small-towns in India where the film is shot.
So if you're up for some nonsensical fun and accidental comedy, chalo… to a multiplex near you.
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