This is the film where a “Bheegi Basanti” meets a “Big Daddy” and one says to the other Chalo Dilli. No, no need to think about censorship or forcefully putting your kids to sleep. Chalo Dilli is the name of the movie produced by Lara Dutta’s entertainment company Bheegi Basanti in association with Big Daddy Productions, headed up by her husband, Mahesh Bhupathi. So, as with the near-fatal image, when a “bheegi basanti” meets a “big daddy”, the mind automatically anticipates fireworks – all at the box office of course – but is fireworks actually what we get?
Chalo Dilli, directed by Shashant Shah, promised from the very first trailer to be a rediscovery of “our great nation with the unlikeliest pair”. It is a story centred on two characters played by producer sahiba herself, Lara Dutta, and the comic actor, Vinay Pathak, Chalo Dilli follows the journey of Mihika Banerjee (Dutta) who misses her flight to Delhi and lands up in Jaipur instead. She comes across Manu Gupta (Pathak) for the first time while in her car on the way to the airport where he comes in the car’s path trying to board a rickshaw. Her initial impression of the gentleman is a seemingly negative one as he loses his belongings and one garment makes its way to land to her car’s windscreen. A cleanliness-obsessed individual and investment banker by profession, Banerjee tries to avoid Gupta at all costs, especially on finding him on the same flight only a seat in front. When she shockingly finds herself in Jaipur rather than Delhi, it seems Gupta and her are destined to make their way to Delhi together. The film sees them make this journey and highlights the various mini-adventures that they go on as well as the unimaginable kerfuffle that comes their way. It is a tale of how two very opposing characters have to come together and the consequences of such a union.
It is fair to say that the character of Mihika Banerjee is one which requires the exact look that is given by Lara Dutta. She is the high-flying business professional, she is the wife whose husband is constantly worrying about her and she is one who loves and can’t live without her creature comforts. Dutta’s rendition of Banerjee is somewhat admirable. Although perhaps not a particularly hard character to play for her, she does it as well as can be expected. The character is not outstanding and therefore will be easily forgotten, as will Dutta’s performance.
The role of Manu Gupta could not have been given to a more deserving actor. Vinay Pathak, who has been a part of many critically acclaimed movies, gives a commendable performance in this particular movie. An actor known very much for his comic timing, Pathak plays the role of Gupta with ease. The only shortcoming of the performance is that it was perhaps a role he fitted into with a little too much ease. The character’s scope could have been stretched a little in order for it to be that much more impressionable which, as it stands, it was not.
As the plot suggests, the two characters find themselves in dubious situations that further emphasise their opposing traits. The script is a huge let-down in what are potentially humorous scenarios. Perhaps it was imperative for audiences to expect such scenes and therefore, the comedy factor which is portrayed in the movie doesn’t quite live up to the expectation or perhaps the script was purposefully made so that the comedy didn’t overpower the actual plot. Either way, the balance wasn’t quite right and, when watching, one seems to get a little lost in the want to laugh a little more and yearning for something to laugh at. A great nation is not relived and neither is there an attempt made to encourage this kind of rediscovery.
On the whole, Chalo Dilli’s main weakness is that the concept and the characters are ones already known and sees before in various movies both in Indian cinema and in Hollywood. Had the creativeness of the roles and plot been given that much more concentration, this movie had the potential to give the audiences comic genius and a story which was heart-warming for reasons that hadn’t been thought of before. The movie does neither of these things and, inevitably, will fall short in many ways.
The fireworks one may have been looking forward to with the collaboration of the two production companies that made this movie simply weren’t ignited it seems. If you’re looking for a film which will leave you thinking then you might just find that this one will but as to what you will be thinking at the end is debatable. Let’s just say that this journey to “Dilli” is perhaps one that is not necessary to make.