Director Shashant Shah’s ‘Chalo Dilli’ has its heart in the right place. He makes a Bollywood movie with a fun, breezy start, which loses steam in the second half. The area where the film flounders is the lenient editing. Repetitive conversations (especially during the latter half) go on and on and scenes are stretched. Then you have a clumsily shot item number out of nowhere, and other haywire developments. A road trip which will irrevocably change the lives of at least one of the participants.
Hot woman Mihika Banerjee in a short skirt played by Lara Dutta, an uptight investment banker who is the senior VP of a 200-crore company, drinks Evian water and is obsessively clean. This is the type of woman who never cracks a smile, who after five years after marriage doesn’t have a child because she doesn’t want the responsibility and who is willing to travel on her own birthday because she doesn’t care about spending it with her husband. In other words, a woman in urgent need of a life-lesson on getting her priorities right.
Barely has she left the city limits of Jaipur, she finds herself stuck with this zarda-chewing Manu Gupta, played by Vinay Pathak- a kind of person she has never had to interact with in her entire life. And with each step forward these two seem to take two steps backward. Manu owns a shop at Karol Bagh, who is loud, talkative and relentlessly crass. But unlike Mihika, Manu has his heart in the right place and over the course of a long, unexpected journey, he teaches her what’s important. The film has the two addressing each other as bhaisahab and behenji (to rule out any romantic angle). But their relationship graph is most interesting to watch changing dynamics at each turn.
The story is an interesting premise. But the trip is just the beginning. As Lara Dutta keeps losing her luggage, her gadgets (basically everything she believed was essential to her life so far) she turns into a happier person. Who doesn’t mind traipsing through the small towns in a torn satin blouse and muck on her face? If there is any saving grace to this film it is Lara’s performance as Mihika. She’s perfect for the part as a snotty banker who doesn’t settle for anything less than business class and mineral water from Switzerland. But even in the second half of her performance remains restrained, imparting dignity to her character. Also, a couple of scenes are notable where Lara manages to give a glimpse of the caring human being hidden behind the loud flashy façade.
For all the Zeenat Aman fans, there is the re-mixed version of Laila Main Laila with Yana Gupta flaunting her curves. Not bad but a certain oomph factor is missing.
Chalo Dilli has been rated as three and a half stars. This winning Lara-Vinay pairing is worth a watch.
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