Saturday, October 27, 2018

Rajma Chawal - Movie Review

Delhi, like much of India, has a dichotomous existence. The glass facades and grandeur of New Delhi contrast the congested and modest by-lanes of Purani Dilli. Director Leena Yadav’s Netflix Original, ‘Rajma Chawal’ uses this distinction between Old and New Delhi to set its characters but misses the mark in execution. It is a recipe that had the potential to be the audience’s comfort food but ends up leaving them with a grumbling stomach.

A New Delhi bred musician, Kabir (played by Anirudh Tanwar), along with his father (played by Rishi Kapoor) moves into their old ancestral home in Chandni Chowk. Due to the untimely death of his mother and a remorse-filled gap between the two, Kabir is shown not to be on very good terms with his father. Despite being surrounded by a dozen odd over-friendly relatives and neighbors, Kabir feels disconnected to Chandni Chowk. The son feels his father insulted his mother’s melodious singing by falling asleep when she sang, while the father explains that the music had a calming and relaxing effect on him. The father gorges on the famous parathas of Purani Dilli and Nukkad ki chai, while the son can’t seem to stand these. Father relishes Rajma-Chawal with his hands, while his son asks for a spoon with almost a feeling of contempt. The differences are starkly evident between the two. In a bid to connect with his son, a technologically challenged man joins Facebook and begins chatting with him under a fake alias. Amid grappling with his mother’s death and struggling with his music, he meets Tara (played by Amyra Dastur), a gold-digger and a hairstylist with a funky hairstyle. As one can predict, she acts as the catalyst that brings together the estranged father-son.

The plot sounds interesting and has some good moments as well, which are few and far apart. The biggest problem in the movie is its unconvincing writing by Vivek Anchalia and Leena Yadav. The plot twists seem to happen rather unnaturally – a band is formed over night after a chance meeting of Kabir with random strangers. Though there are subtle hints of various subplots such as Tara’s past and Kabir’s mother’s death, but the pieces do not fall into place seamlessly. It begins to look like a forcefully made jigsaw puzzle, with subplots being the pieces that are forcefully joined to solve the puzzle. Even the actors do not seem completely convinced of the story, which is evident in their superficial acting, only on the surface of it. Rishi Kapoor plays his part decently well, but his character remains on the surface without much explanation. Debutante Anirudh Tanwar is decent, though his range of emotions seem limited. He appears to be a pro at displaying anger but fumbles at emoting other emotions. Amyra Dastur adds some spunk and is easy on the eyes but gets a caricature to play. She plays a stereotypical loud-mouthed girl with weird tattoos and an odd hairstyle, just to prove a point that she has suffered in life and has now become an independent woman. Among the other cast, Aparshakti Khurana and Sheeba Chaddha are good in their small parts and add to the comic relief.

What could have easily been a feel-good movie, is unnecessarily marred by a lot of plot twists in the second half. The first half, even with contrived twists, is enjoyable. It is in the second half, when the movie loses its charm and begins to become monotonous and repetitive. Also, a movie where the lead is a musician deserves much better music. Composer Hitesh Sonik uses similar tunes with different lyrics by Irshad Kamil, with none of the tracks being memorable. Even his wife Sunidhi Chauhan has sung a passable number.

While I watched the movie at Mumbai Film Festival in a theatre, it will have a worldwide release on Netflix. Going by the content, this movie makes for a decent watch on Netflix, if there are no other better options. So, catch it if you have nothing better to watch.

My Rating – 2/5

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