Saturday, June 02, 2007
less sugar, not sugarless
i had seen the promotional videos of 'chini kum' and expected it to be a fine movie. i was not disappointed.in fact it turned out to be beyond my expectations. for balki (balakrishnan) it was the first time as writer and director. he is the national creative director for lowe and one of the finest minds in the advertising world. ilayaraja,the musical wizard from tamil nadu, was composing music in a hindi film after a long hiatus.and i think amitabh bacchan and tabu acted together for the first time in this romantic film with an unusual and interesting storyline.it was a series of firsts for the heroes. the effect was synergistic. well-written and directed with witty dialogues,terrific songs,and excellent chemistry between bigB and tabu(not taabu). a friend of mine commented that this is a fantastic jodi;even better than amitabh & rekha and amitabh & jaya. amitabh is the interpreter of ageing with grace and dignity who finds love rather late in the day.chini kum is the bittersweet tale of romance between a 64 year old man and a 34 year old woman with dollops of humour.tabu holds her own as amitabh's feisty young girlfriend. she looks fabulous.
buddha gupta,the bengali chef cum restaurateur, owns a restaurant in chelsea, london,called 'spice6'. a desi gordon ramsey. he runs it with an iron hand. the hot-tempered boss micromanages the kitchen breathing down the necks of his cooks and waiters who are quivering most of the time. the ponytailed arrogant owner thinks no end of himself and his restaurant. he can do(cook) no wrong.he gets the shock of his life when the hyderabadi zafrani pulao ordered by nina verma(tabu) is brought back to the kitchen. rejected by nina. furious, he wants to know what was wrong with his zafrani pulao. he goes to her table and sings hosanas about his kitchen. she is amused having already formed a poor opinion about his culinary skills. the next day she sends a plate full of hyderabadi zafrani pulao to the kitchen. thinking that it is his preparation he has a taste and praises his cook, only to realise a few seconds later from the bearer that the memsahib who has just arrived has sent it to him. a lesson on how zafrani pulao should taste. chini kum ya chini zyada? he admires her gumption and they develop a friendship.nina,the 34 year old spinster visiting from india,is bowled over by the charm of the 64 year old man. love blossoms between the two.they communicate with deep looks and shared smiles. soon buddha's umbrella(chatri) becomes the excuse for her to drop in at the restaurant.thanks to the unpredictable english weather.whenever she leaves the restaurant, it is raining outside and buddha chivalrously offers the chatri.
the short-tempered buddha has a mother(zora sehgal) at home who spends most of the time watching tv. she implores him everyday to go to the gym for exercises. and that irritates him no end. he detests her cooking because she prepares only roti,dal and subzi.he foulmouths her often for bringing rubbish on the table.then there is this precocious "sexy" six year old neighbour who is suffering from leukamia and for whom the countdown has started.swiny khera acts well beyond her age and the script for her has been thoughtfully done.i have a bone to pick here with balki .why call a six year old "sexy"? balki should have been more sensitive and responsible about that. even the father of the child calls her "sexy". something unthinkable.she is both humourous and poignant.she is cool,calm and composed. she is sensitive and perceptive and finds out very soon that buddha uncle has changed.she finds him coming home late and preoccupied. she asks him whether there is any other woman in his life. she would like to see all adult dvds before she 'goes up' and beseeches buddha to get them for her to watch. buddha is extremely fond of 'sexy'.
when the love blossoms with nina and buddha asks her for an evening out,nina lashes out at him asking him whether the only desire of all men is to jump into bed with single women. but in fact she wants to spend the night together with ghasphoos(buddha is a vegetarian) and he with tengdi kebab.nicknames are the order of the day.her roommate is having a bad marriage and one day nina brings her husband for friendly counselling to 'spice6'. buddha gets jealous and insecure. later when he enquires about this new person, she laughs it away and puts him at ease.when she agrees to go out together and invites buddha to visit her house,his joy knows no bounds.he goes to a druggist to buy a condom.the sardarji salesman finds it difficult to follow the sign language of buddha for the condom which he employs as he is shy to utter the word in public. finally when buddha has no choice and asks for the condom,the salesman tells his assistant "chacha ke liye ek paaket condom nikalna".buddha is furious that he has been referred to as chacha.because he thinks he is still young.
and then one on his 64th birthday when nina drops in,she is invited to the kitchen where the staff have kept a birthday cake ready with 64 candles.buddha has already reached there and quickly pulls out about 5 to 6 candles and stuffs the mouth of his funny keralite waiter(prounouncing zefrani pulao in a typical keralite accent) who is about to blurt out to nina his real age.that was a really funny scene.and there are many more scenes in the kitchen which make you laugh.
nina agrees to marry buddha under one condition.he must get her dad's approval. buddha agrees without realising the uphill task he has to face. both leave for india.dad(paresh rawal) is a cricket buff and lives in new delhi.a terrible bore.a staunch gandhian who is fond of scotch and chicken.after several failed attempts,finally buddha makes the proposal of marriage to nina's dad in the loo! he is many years younger than his daughter's beau. he is shocked to see the man who asks for his daughter's hand. no way will his daughter marry him,he says. nina is insistant that she is in love with him and will marry no other person. he goes on a hungerstrike and refuses to touch even water.buddha and nina go to the qutab minar and buddha stands in front of the 2000 year old pillar and stretches his hands backwards so that the hands can touch each other.the legend goes that if you are able to do that,whatever you wish will be fulfilled.finally there is reconciliation.the adamant father relents.meanwhile in london 'sexy' dies.buddha is shattered and sobs uncontrollably.he goes to the pillar again and tries to brings his hands together.
buddha's nonogenarian mother(zora sehgal) is overjoyed at the thought of her pyara laadla getting married.one who was almost destined to live as a permanent bachelor. the zesty grand dame has a funny style of dialogue delivery which adds sparkle to her conversations with her grumpy son. she acts with gusto and a joy de vivre.
ilayaraja's tunes have the hummability factor in them.though they are not new creations,as they have been lifted from some of his earlier films,it is new for the hindi-speaking population. ilayaraja is a very talented music director. chini kum opens up a window of opportunity in hindi films for him.and what a zetsy music track! three cheers to ilayaraja. as well as balki whose direction is par excellence.
chini kum also shows the changing concepts of hindi films.keeping in line with international format of two hours.and importantly not necessarily a huge budget.and balki with his advertising background gave zydus cadila some publicity for their sugar brand called sugarfree.this is the new flavour.
a very feelgood film.racy dialogues,polished cinematography by p.c. sreeram.they say that you should carry a torch with you to watch films shot by him.he generally shoots very dark sequences.thankfully,there are not so many in this film. excellent lyrics and shreya ghosal's haunting voice singing 'chini kum hai,chini kum hai'. let us have more of such films."hamhe chini zyaada chahiye!".
yes,there was less love(chini).but it wasn't loveless(no chini).go and watch it.go and love life and enjoy it.and if possible watch it with your loved one.