Keep the sweeteners low. Low fat, high sarcasm. No mush. No overt display of emotions. Rather put in some tingly humour. And spin the story around some ironical situations. The recipe of ‘Cheeni Kum’ is ready.
The movie, featuring Amitabh Bachchan in yet another brilliant performance, not just entertains you with its sarcastic humour, it also touches your heart with its emotional moments. The film has no pretension of being a laugh riot. It charts a narrow course by telling a bittersweet tale of romance between a 64-year-old man and a 34 year-old woman.
Buddhadev (Amitabh Bachchan) is the chef of what he calls �the best Indian restaurant in London�. He takes pride in his job and considers cooking more of an art than a culinary chore. The cooks under him dread him for his perfectionist streak.
Buddhadev’s reputation is challenged when a customer disapproves of the restaurant’s Hyderabadi Zafrani Pulao. The customer is Neena (Tabu), a tourist from India.
The acidic chef talks tough with Neena and she walks out of the restaurant. Later, she makes Buddhadev realize the mistake of the cook who had made the pulao.
Buddhadev feels an apology to Neena is due. But the ego in him won’t let him say �I’m Sorry�.
What begins as a bittersweet acquaintance between Buddhadev and Neena soon transforms into mutual attraction.
At home, Buddhadev has a ninety-year-old mother (Zohra Sehgal) who keeps asking him to join a gym. In his neighborhood lives a sweet little girl Sexy (Swini Khara), who suffers from blood cancer and is Buddhadev’s best friend.
The irony in ‘Cheeni Kum’ is that the high points of the romantic track of Buddhadev and Neena are matched with the tragic turns in the track featuring Sexy.
Paresh Rawal plays Neena’s 58-year-old diabetic father who is unwilling to accept a man as old as Buddhadev as Neena’s suitor.
Director R Balakrishnan has made a very feelgood movie. Balki keeps Amitabh Bachchan the driving force of the story. He keeps sentimentality out. The humour he opts for is tinged with sarcasm and rustiness. But behind the barbs, love is visible.
Amitabh Bachchan is touching a new height of charisma at his age. Not only does he look fabulous, he delivers a breezy, buoyant and convincing performance as the caustic chef.
Tabu comes up with a fine act but her Hyderabadi accent is unmistakable in her dialogues. Paresh Rawal is certainly not at his near best. But that is not his fault. His role has been written in such a way that if offers very little scope for comedy.
Child artist Swini Khara is simply brilliant. Her role and her dialogues have been written very beautifully. Zohra Sehgal is delightful in a performance incredibly feisty for her age.
‘Cheeni Kum’ has different versions of the title song that play in the background in various situations. The movie’s highpoint is its end when the protagonist wins the hand of his woman but loses someone else very close to him.
Director R Balki has got almost everything right in his first feature film.
Do not miss this sugarfree spread.