Cheeni Kum Movie Review
Three weeks late, but finally, I saw the Cheeni Kum (which in English means Less Sugar). The reason I avoided seeing this earlier was because I don’t like Amitabh much, though I did like his performance in Sarkar. But I love Tabu and then – everyone was talking about the movie.
Well, this romantic comedy is funny, light and the first half completely absorbing. The movie opens in an Indian restaurent in London called Spice6. Buddhdev Gupta (Amitabh) is the proud owner/chef. He is a perfectionist short-tempered boss who makes life hell for his employees. Living as a bachelor for 64 years has made him egoistic and unbearable. However this provides an opportunity for some good comic scenes…as Buddha alternates between yelling and bantering with his boys in the kitchen. However one of the reoccurring jokes about a waiter’s potruding teeth was overplayed, thus making it tasteless.
Buddha’s life revolves around his restaurant…and his mother (played by Zohra Sehgal) who lives with him.
His life changes when beautiful Nina Verma (Tabu) walks into his restaurant and complains about a certain Hyderabadi Pulao…in fact sparks start to fly! Sparks that kindle a sweet romance. The age gap between the two maybe all of 30 years, but it doesn’t seem to matter when you watch them bantering and joking with each other. After all Nina is a mature woman who knows what she wants and the romance between the two does not conjure up the disgust that Amitabh’s movie Nishabd did. In Nishabd he is shown as a grandfatherly figure of 60 romancing a young college girl of 18 whom he could not possibly have anything in common with. The only way the Nishabd romance would have been believable was if he had been shown as being attracted by her youth and her body. But he isn’t…and the movie turned out to be a hypocritical rendering of a pedophile’s lust for a young girl. Cheeni Kum movie is not like that at all. The chemistry between the two comes through and their mutual attraction is romantic and touching.
Amitabh looks haggard in some scenes however, every bit of the 64 he was playing…but his acting was flawless. And as for Tabu, she is absolutely fantastic. Not just the way she looks, but the way she carries herself too…and her acting was natural and understated.
But a review of this movie cannot be written about without mentioning the little 8 year-old girl called Sexy (Swini Khara) who is Budhha’s neighbour. She suffers from blood cancer and by showing the deep attachement she shares with Buddha, the director R Balakrishnan reveals to us Buddha’s soft side. Sexy has some funny and some very bitter-sweet lines to deliver and though they were lines far too wise for her years, the kid is a treat to watch.
The first half of the movie just swooshed past…but the second half, when Buddha goes to Delhi to get ‘permission’ from Nina’s dad (played by Paresh Rawal), for the marriage is less enjoyable. Paresh is an excellent actor and a very good comedian but in this movie he did not get a chance to do justice to a role that I felt was half-baked. He acts like a retired (retarded?) guy who decides to starve himself to death when he hears of his daughter’s choice. Its not as if Indian parents don’t use blackmail in these circumstances…it was the way the role played out…like a farce.
The music, by Ikyaraja, is very good. Very haunting. But apparently these are his own Tamil tracks which he has recyled in Hindi.
This two hour twenty minute film is worth a watch. If only to see how Bollywood movies are coming of age. No song and dance, not much melodrama…just a high dose of reality. And we are not talking of the stark reality of the underworld, or harsh city life with drug addicts and prostitutes taking up screen time…but real people like you and me.