Title: Chalo Dilli
Director: Shashant Shah
Producer: Krishika Lulla, Kavita Bhupathi Chadda, Ram Mirchandani
Written By: Arshad Syed
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Lara Dutta
Director of Photography: Nikos Andritsakis
Production Design: Teddy Maurya
Art Director: Ravikant Bhakre
Music: Gourov Dasgupta, Anand Raj Anand, Sachin Gupta, Rohit Kulkarni, Roshan Balu
Lyrics: Manthan Anand, Raj Anand, Krishika Lulla, Shabbir Ahmed, Nisha Mascarenhas
Singers: Raja Hasan, Sukhwinder Singh, June Banerjee, Neeraj Shridhar, Kamal Heer, Natalie Di Luccio
Costume: Manoshi Nath, Rushi Sharma
"Kaunsi badi baat ho gayi?
" exclaims Karol Bagh mein "Ladies Dress Material Aur Saris" bechne wale Manu bhaisahab, baat baar par
. It's the kind of funda
that we could all benefit from embracing in situations that seem troublesome but matter little in the big scheme of things. In Chalo Dilli
Mihika Banerjee is about to learn how to shrug and say "big deal" or "kya farak padta hai
" to situations that would earlier have elicited explosive expletives. Actually, that's unfair, madamji
is probably too high class for gaali galoch
(woh tou Manu bhaisahab ka kaam hai
) but the next time something doesn't go Mihika's way people will likely be spared her icy sarcasm and irritable remarks. While Mihika's trek from Mumbai to Dilli results in an internal journey where she travels "a much bigger distance than on a roadmap", we come out of the journey being thoroughly entertained. Chalo Dilli
will either remind you of all the trips full of mishaps and oddball characters you've survived in India or make you wish you could set out on just such an adventure!
As Lara Dutta noted in one of the press conferences for the movie
, there is a dearth in Bollywood of interesting female roles - our heroines are unfortunately often relegated to the kirdaar
of a wife or a girlfriend. Chalo Dilli
is neither a romance like Jab We Met
, nor a movie with a female-oriented theme like Dor
, but it's still given us a strong and interesting female character with an engaging story and of that I am grateful. One can only hope movies like Chalo Dilli
and Aaja Nachle
, where the heroine is the protagonist but her being female is entirely incidental to the narrative, are made more often. Lara plays the role of Mihika, the head of a successful multinational bank, with poise and grace and the wonderful thing about her character is that it is not one-dimensional. Mihika is not just a corporate head honcho who is dedicated to her profession, uncompromising about both work and her standard of living, and a bit spoilt by her life of luxury. She is not just someone who seems to have forgotten how to enjoy the little moments of life in her bhaag daud ki zindagi
. She has a very affectionate relationship with her husband, she is insightful, she knows when to admit she is wrong and though she finds certain mannerisms distasteful and has a cleanliness fetish she is definitely not a mere caricature of a snob.
Vinay Pathak is wonderfully convincing with Manu Gupta's mannerisms and dialogue delivery - he plays the part of the bumbling Dilliwala
perfectly. Chandni Chowk ke rehne wale Guptaji
, who is clearly a foil for the sophisticated Mihika, may appear to be in the movie solely for the purposes of being loud and boisterous, spout fundas
of life, and get Mihika and himself in and out of trouble constantly but he has a certain degree of charm and the kind of friendly demeanour that can penetrate through the most cynical of hearts. Guptaji
may be thode se
crass but he never descends into vulgarity. Though we don't find out till much later, you can tell that bhaisahab
must be a family man. Woh
"dil ke bade saaf hain
" wali line hoti hai na
- it is applicable to Guptaji
so completely. His anecdotes, the way he always makes sure he calls people by their names, his tendency to chatter away incessantly is all so endearing. His only problem is that he seems to think he can handle anything and that he is very cunning, which often tends to land him into precarious situations.
Being a road movie, Chalo Dilli
features plenty of detours, a host of quirky characters and various modes of transportation. As Manu and Mihika make their way across the rustic northern hinterland and towards the capital they find themselves in situations that range from the credible to the absurd. What strikes one when watching the movie is how true to life the numerous characters they encounter during those situations are. Take the sleepy tourist taxi driver Shivratan urf Babloo, for instance. He reminded me of a trip to Vaishno Devi that my family and our friends took one summer when I was a child where we had bilkul aise hi
driver uncle - I distinctly recall us deciding to stop by a dhaba
in the middle of the night so he could get some sleep instead of dozing off while driving! My personal favourite in this movie was definitely the sweet truck driver Dharampalji
who felt a bit shy around "beautiful madamji
" and put on angrezi gaane
on the radio for her sake, but the Bengali couple, the motley dhabba crew, the slightly dense outlaws, the maalik of a low-class "hotel" and many other characters are also entertaining in their own right.
The attention to detail in this movie is worth commenting on. I am a big fan of having things happen in the background
even as the attention of the audience is on the characters in the foreground and this movie ticks that box rather admirably. Manu bumping into the magazine stand while Mihika is purchasing one at the counter, dhaabewale mamaji
and Sunny waving in the background as Mihika and Manu get on an oonth savaari
, the TC enjoying the singing on the train along with everyone else and Manu trying to hand back item song wali
the skirt she stripped off are just some examples. I also enjoyed catching little details like Manu's various references to daughters or the "tolet" sign in the dhabba
instead of the "toilet" sign which corroborate what we are about to find out in the story.Chalo Dilli
is as visually appealing as you'd hope for from a movie that wants take its audience on an expedition of the rustic and charming India that they know exists, and probably pass by often, but never stop to take notice of. I loved how unexpected the camera angles were sometimes, how dusty, expansive or closed in the shots were depending on the situation, and how rich the colours in each frame were. Nikos Andritsakis is definitely a name to keep an eye out for in the future. Also to be commended are Teddy Maurya (Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal) and Ravikant Bhakre (Love Aaj Kal) for the production design and art direction respectively. I was reminded several times of Jab We Met
when watching Chalo Dilli
, in terms of the sheer amount of detail in the setting, how well the settings captured the kind of places the movie wanted to depict and how everything looked like it belonged there. I was so delighted when I realised that my instinct wasn't incorrect and that Teddy Maurya who worked on JWM also worked on this movie!
I've already talked at length about what is so charming about Chalo Dilli
but the soul of the movie is undoubtedly Arshad Syed's dialogues. I can't sing enough praises about how wonderfully he has managed to capture the bol-chaal
of the nation: from taxi driver Shivratan bhaiya
("saari duniya ne theka le rakha hai gareeb ki dhulaai ka!
") to truck driver Dharampalji
's modest demeanour ("rehne dijiye maydamji, kyun sharminda kar rahi hain
"), from dhabbewale maamaji
's practical acceptance of what he has to live with ("abhi tou maine parson dekha - yeh lamba saanp idhar se nikal ke gaya ji
"), to Bengali uncleji
launching into his pet topics about "the level of corruption in this country" ("Bharatvarsh ka na kuch nahin ho sakta
"), from the corrupt police officer busy earning a dishonest living ("500 rupe se kya hoga hain? Poora office maintain karna hota hai hum logon ko!
") to the local thug's colourful and inventive Haryanavi swearing ("o teri, bataao saala silaai machine ki najaayas aulad, uski sui itni theeki ho gayi ke mahre hi chubha raha hai?
") ...it's all the kind of conversations anyone in India would be oh so familiar with. As for Manu Gupta and Mihika Banerjee's dialogues, if I were to start squeeing about how fun and witty their interactions are, how hilariously endearing Guptaji
's chatter is, how you can't help but smirk when Mihika delivers one of her sarcastic rebuttals or smile when she teases bhaisahab
...we'd be here a while.
This refreshingly romance-free tale with a journey full of familiar characters, ridiculous situations, and rustic places easily won over at least my family's heart. Ab aap kis baat ka intezaar kar rahe ho
? Chalo Dilli
[+] From TOI
The good thing is that the writer and director Shashant Shah know precisely what not to do with the rather rare genre. Though the makers replace Steve Martin's character from the original with a female protagonist, there is no additional effort to link Mihika and Manu romantically, which would have been a common tendency in the love-struck Bollywood. So there is no unnecessary burden on the writer to chalk out chemistry between the two, which would ultimately culminate into them falling in love.
Secondly, though the journey traverses through countryside, the film doesn't get into the sermon mode on sarso-ke-khet or desh-ki-mitti . And thirdly, despite the class-divide between the two protagonists, the narrative never falls into the trap of belittling the higher-class or taming the rich girl, another ideal inclination.
I included this review because the last two points hadn't occurred to me but I definitely agree with them!