Friday, May 6, 2011

#115: Chalo Dilli



Very early in the movie, an advertising agency is pitching a TVC for an investment product for Lara Dutta's firm. While critiquing the film, Mihika (Lara Dutta) confidently says that something is amiss in the TVC and that she can't put a finger on it. At that exact instant, suspecting some particle in her water, she uses her index finger to remove it from her glass. She sees off her advertising agency who address her deferentially as 'Ma'm' and as her secretary enters, she brushes her off about being late with one swift and brusque remark. These events within seconds of each other tell you that Mihika, a thorough professional, is also a perfectionist. Assertive to a fault, she is the kind of boss who would be a pain in the ass.

Mihika rushes off to catch a flight to Delhi to meet her husband. Enter Manu Gupta (Vinay Pathak), a cloth merchant in his mid-30s, who is seen taking an auto in the midst of a traffic jam in Bombay. While stuffing his suitcase in the auto, his baggage accidentally opens up and apart from all the paraphernalia that gets strewn onto the roads, it throws open his baggy striped underwear right on Mihika's windshield. Vinay Pathak is yet to utter a dialogue but you can probably guess from this little incident that he must not be the most civil person in the world and perhaps a tad disorganized. Even if you didn't see the promos, you the know the comic element in the movie is going to stem from how Mihika and Manu get along with each other in the movie. More importantly when a writer- director team tells you so much in so little time in the beginning, you know as a viewer that you're in good hands.

This is director Shashant Shah's second movie. His first being the journey undertaken by his protagonist in the touching Dasvidaniya.. While writer Arshad Syed had previously done the screenplay of the forgettable Go and MP3, one can unequivocally say that both these men have bettered their previous accomplishments. For Chalo Dilli is one deliciously scripted light-hearted movie. While the film's title and the promos were giving away the fact this was a movie in which it's lead actors travel to Delhi together, it's surprise twists and story turns keep you laughing and guessing all the way to the end. Vinay Pathak is sublime as the typical Delhi-ite for whom bragging is a birthright. He is known to essay all such character roles to perfection and this one is no exception. With his actions and diction, he wears the hat of the Karol Bagh businessman much too easily. Lara, on the other hand, is convincing and completes the lead cast with a self-assured performance. Once the movie begins, there is no letting up of the intensity in this comedy with a host of characters, each of whom are guaranteed to surprise you for good reasons. The drawbacks would probably be the couple of needless songs that are thrown in between and an end that flirted with melodrama. Thankfully, both these are addressed very quickly and the movie gets back to it's feet before boring you.

Chalo Dilli is a lovely piece of cinema that is as breezy as funny. Like Dasavidaniya, it ends with a message that is not preachy but might just make you reflect on your life. Vinay Pathak yet again proves his bankability at the box-office while Lara Dutta not only gives her acting career a boost with this performance but also puts her money where her mouth is by backing this project on the production end. Movies like these are a symbol of the new-age Bollywood that gives some importance to the quality of script that is being made into a movie. That quality is there you to see very clearly because irrespective of the kind of mood you start watching Chalo Dilli in, it is guaranteed to leave you with a smile by the end of it.

Rating: 6.8/10