Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu, Dialogue Overdose
Direction: R Balki
No yum, only glum. Sweet rice just isn’t nice in a Zaafrani Hyderabadi biryani. And thereby hangs a kahani.. in which everyone yackety-yaks till you want to yell, “Bak bak bak bum.” Shhh, quiet, stop that jabber-jabber.. this is cinema, not a stage play. How about letting some glances, silences or even a piece of music speak?
Perhaps the most overwritten script to hit your year drums in ears (see what so much excessive dialogue can do), R Balki’s Cheeni Kum is a curio – you like it in moments, you hate it in many more moments, but one thing is consistent – the characters talk-talk-talk.. and that too on serious philosophical matters like how to be sad when you’re happy.. and happy when you’re sad. Wow.
This psycho-babble, believe it or not, emanates from a tiny tot kid who oddly has this lust for “adults only” DVDs. Plus, she traipses in sleeveless clothes through a London winter guaranteed to freeze even an Eskimo.. but hang on guys.
There’s more in the jabber-jabber section here, led by a wonder Indian cook nicknamed Ghas Phus.. though the pronunciation on screen keeps going Ghaas Poos. That’s our Amitabh Bachchan, of course, a Chutney Chamatkar, who breaks forth on the art of khaana pakana to his minions if they burn an onion. Pyaaza anyone?
<b1>Anyway his mum (Zohra Sehgal) keeps talking, hectoring him to go to the gym. And when Ghaas Phus.. or Poos meets this Delhi gal Tangdi Kabab (Tabu), they keep talking too, all about chhatris, vegetarianism (a speechlet is made on how fish should be avoided because the fish’s mother cries in the ocean…pleaaase!) and before you can say Kheema Sutra, they’re gabbing about sex. “You want to do it on the grass?” Phus asks.
Indeed, Bachchan’s reprise of Sexy Samosa is embarrassing. The nervous condom-buying scene at a drugstore (reminiscent of Mallika Sherawat’s Khwaish.. eeeks), casing a by-hour sex hotel and lying awake in bed next to unused condoms -- hello, what’s happening out here? When he’s not in frame, jokes are cracked about ribbed and banana-flavoured condoms and “it’s the time to get wet.”
Forget being prudish, the screenplay of the old man-30ish girl in London, is just another male fantasy that’s unconvincingly told. Balki also carries a Mani Ratnam hangover: the Ilaiyaraja music seem to be retreads from Mouna Ragam.. and the terminally-ill child is straight out of Anjali. Also, it’s no surprise that the cinematography is by Ratnam’s oft-used lensman P C Sriram. The visuals do have a distinct moody look.. but what do you do with the perenially magpie-like chattering characters?
is sweet and sane.. but after the intermission point, just hangs around to look defiant. She even tells her father, “So, when are you dying?”.. a bit much.. redeemed by a brisk apology. As her zany dad, Paresh Rawal (wearing gold saucer spectacles), goes on a
to protest against the union, stretching the plot into a farce.
Miraculously, for once, the media crews keep away.. maybe Barkha Dutt was on leave. Very considerately, even thousands of tourists desert Qutb Minar whenever
want to get into this very symbolic clutch at a pillar.. it seems if one of your palms can grasp the other, dude you’ve got it made.
The reams of dialogue do have some witty snatches (only to be re-re-repeated), a few scenes are engaging, and the performances by both Bachchan and Tabu are competent. If the product rises a notch above the average, it’s essentially for its moments, a few giggles here and there, camerawork, professional level of acting and well, a theme that’s daring – but has been done to death now.
Heartfelt request: Mr Bachchan, how about burying Sexy Sam, Mr Nishabd and Ghaas Phus-poos.. and fast?