R. Balki's CHEENI KUM talks of two consenting adults wanting to spend the rest of their lives together. But there's a hitch… The groom-to-be is elder than the prospective father-in-law. This relationship is highly objectionable to the bride's father!
Contrary to general perception, CHEENI KUM is not similar to RGV's NISHABD. Like NISHABD, CHEENI KUM looks at the relationship between a much older man and a young woman, fit to be his daughter. But, unlike NISHABD, CHEENI KUM stresses on humor to drive home the point. Also, the culmination -- so vital in a film of this genre -- is not difficult to gulp since the sequence of events that lead to the climax are believable.
On the flip side, CHEENI KUM tends to get verbose, talk heavy at times. Besides, the first hour tends to stagnate. It only sprints towards the second hour when Amitabh pops up the question. More on that later!
In a nutshell, a film like CHEENI KUM signifies the winds of change in Bollywood. An effort like this is sure to find its share of bouquets and brickbats. The elite wouldn't mind the film, the commoners might.
The boy is actually a 64-year-old man, Buddhadev Gupta [Amitabh Bachchan]. The girl is a 34-year-old woman, Nina Verma [Tabu].
Buddhadev is the chef cum owner of London's top Indian restaurant. He lives with his 85-year-old mother [Zohra Sehgal] and his only friend and confidante is his 9-year-old neighbor -- Sexy [Swini Khara]. Buddhadev is an arrogant, egoistic, pompous man with a singular passion in life -- cooking. A confirmed bachelor who has never been in love. Until Nina walks into his restaurant and life.
Nina is a beautiful, charming, Indian woman. Cool, calm, quiet, always smiling, but independent and strong willed. Two extremes, in age, character and attitude, meet and against all odds fall in love. They decide to get married. And, like any Indian man, Buddhadev respectfully comes to ask Nina's father, Omprakash Verma [Paresh Rawal], living in Delhi, for her hand.
But there's just one problem… Nina's father is 58 years old, 6 years younger than Buddhadev, his would be son-in-law.
Let's get into the analyzing mode and find out what works and what doesn't… The sequences between Amitabh and Tabu at the restaurant are involving. The relationship that Amitabh shares with his mother does raise eyebrows, since it's not conventional. Nonetheless, it's amusing. The moments between Amitabh and the child bring to fore another aspect of the protagonist's personality, which is welcome.
What doesn't? A number of sequences have been stretched for no reason. They tend to get repetitive. As someone who's watching the story from the sides, you want it to proceed in some direction, but there's not much movement in the first half. It takes its own sweet time to reach its destination. Besides, since the film is set in London and the setting is urban, the humor depicted in CHEENI KUM is directed at the elite. That, in turn, robs the film of universal acceptance.
Director Balki shows a flair for light entertainers and the execution of certain sequences is commendable. The portions between Amitabh and Paresh [before Amitabh asks for Tabu's hand] as also the climax [Amitabh's monologue] prove Balki's competence as a storyteller. But at the same time, the writing leaves something to be desired. There are times when boredom sets in.
P.C. Sreeram's cinematography is splendid. Ilaiyaraaja's musical score is soothing. The title track is soft on your ear drums. Chandan Arora's editing could've been sharper. Ideally, a few repetitive moments can be done away with.
Amitabh Bachchan proves his supremacy yet again. Playing an arrogant chef, the actor is natural all through, but his performance in the finale makes the character all the more believable. Tabu stands on her feet despite a formidable co-star's domineering presence. She's excellent. Paresh Rawal is only adding to his credibility with every film. Zohra Sehgal is adorable. Swini Khara is supremely confident.
On the whole, CHEENI KUM is absorbing in parts. A lackluster first half gets a boost with a much energetic second half and that elevates the film to the watchable level. At the box-office, CHEENI KUM is targeted at the multiplexes mainly. Clever promos and feel-good vibes should ensure a positive run at the multiplexes.