Monday, 30th October 2017

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Rajma Chawal has the right ingredients but is overcooked

Rishi Kapoor has to do most of the heavy lifting and he brings a spark to every scene he’s in

  • Published 2.12.18, 9:04 PM
  • Updated 4.12.18, 1:56 PM
  • 2 mins read
Anirudh Tanwar and Rishi Kapoor in Rajma Chawal A still from the film

Comfort food, the feeling of home, mom’s love, a special occasion…. Rajma Chawal means different things — and then all of these — to most of us. Rajma Chawal, a slice-of-life watch set in the bustling bylanes of Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, has the right ingredients — a heartwarming father-son tale, the woes of communication gap between generations, adapting to changing times and the need for families to connect — but director Leena Yadav overcooks her film. The result is a rambling narrative, random characters and a film that has its heart in the right place but lacks soul.

Which is a pity because Rajma Chawal starts off well. Kabir Mathur (debutant Anirudh Tanwar) not only loses his mother suddenly but also has to contend with giving up his home — his dad Raj (Rishi Kapoor) leaves his plush south Delhi address to shift back to his ancestral house in Chandni Chowk in the hope that being with family and close friends will alleviate some of his loneliness and bring him closer to his son.

But seeing Kabir’s resentment towards him growing — the two sit for dinner together, but the son has his headphones on and his eyes fixed on his phone screen — Raj is coaxed by his extended family to “befriend” his son in the virtual world.

So the dad pretends to be a girl, sends his son a Facebook friend request and starts chatting with him. With Kabir finding someone to share his feelings with virtually, his relationship with his dad also improves.

The first hour of Rajma Chawal is quite watchable. The quirky Punjabi setup, with all its cliches, brings the film alive. “Chonch banao,” they say while pouting for a selfie and a hilarious scene plays out when a lady buying lingerie mistakes Raj asking for a cup of tea as double-meaning talk.

However, the film’s primary thread — of impersonating someone on social media, in this case Tara aka Seher (Amyra Dastur) — is borderline creepy. When Seher, a manipulative gold digger, discovers what’s happening, Raj bribes her to ensure she keeps play-acting with her son. For a film that wants to be socially relevant, Rajma Chawal doesn’t put out the right message.

At 129 minutes, Rajma Chawal should have been a breezy watch but is weighed down by the same things playing out over and over again. A subplot involving Seher and her on-off boyfriend Baljeet (Aparshakti Khurana in a bit role) is unnecessary. The film is filled with clunky lines; a character who gets pregnant before marriage says, “Small-town aur big tummy bina shaadi ke? I was scared, ya”. Chandni Chowk functions more as a backdrop than a character.

Newcomer Anirudh is earnest, but has zero chemistry with Amyra. Most of the supporting cast, especially Sheeba Chaddha, Manurishi Chaddha and Nirmal Rishi, are a hoot. Rishi Kapoor has to do most of the heavy lifting and he brings a spark to every scene he’s in, making Rajma Chawal fun in parts. Only if the tarka had been kadak.

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