Leena Yadav’s sweet and simple tale of father-son relationship isn’t endearing enough
Memories. A connect with the place you are brought up in. The city you inhabit. Mohallas, paas padosi. A situation where neighbors are closer than relatives. The people you meet. The things you associate yourself with. Emotions. Betrayals. Understanding elders, parents per se. Modern day relationships. You have it all in Rajma Chawal. At the outset, these ingredients can make up a dish extremely delicious and sumptuous. But it seems that Yadav has forgotten to add the key in the dish- the salt. All the spices just don’t blend together, and that’s where you are left with a bad taste in the mouth.
Middle class elderly widower Raj Mathur (Rishi Kapoor) succumbing to his loan overdues shifts from his house in posh locality of New Delhi to a humble area in Chandni Chowk, much to the resentment of his son Kabir (Anirudh Tanwar). When Kabir just refuses to bond with his old fashioned father, Raj uses social media and a fake account to get on talking terms with his son. Things turn weird for both when the girl in the fake account crosses their path for real.
There’s a dialogue in the very beginning of the film- ‘Mera beta naaraz hai ki use main Nayi Dilli ka ghar chhodkar Puraani Dilli le ja raha hun‘. As simple and one liner thing as it may sound, it pretty much conveys the essence of the film as a whole. The value of one’s home and that the young boy is upset because he’s made to shift within the city gives you an idea of how vast Delhi and its cultures are. It’s almost like shifting base to an enstranged location.
Vivek Anchalia’s story is straight forward and linear. It’s a tale of father-son relationship gotten complex when the father puts the situations in an absurd complexity. There’s so much that the makers want to say- through visual images, symbolisms, finding meaning in absurdity, and even through a take on modern love- but the screenplay here is the weak link. The story works, the screenplay just doesn’t. In fact the half hearted presentation makes you feel that the story is boring. You would even question the basic novelty of the plot terming it illogical- Would a father even resort to such an action inviting troubles just to be able to talk to his son?
One thing you don’t agree with is the financial angle to the plot. Raj Mathur pays the girl heftily for the work at a time when it is deliberately shown that he’s not in a very good economic condition. Such are the little things that put you off taking you away from the emotional part of the film. Adding to the misery is a cheesy and loud over the top climax.
What is good is that film easily slips into various moods and emotions, and you are in for many surprises mentally. Give it to Yadav for not keeping it abstract and serving you things right on your plate. Also, some symbolic sequences, especially the ones where Kabir is discovering the subtle beauty of Chandni Chowk reminiscing his childhood are executed intelligently. Those are cinematic moments giving you the flavour blast.
Rishi Kapoor is charming to the core. Right from the first shot, he makes you believe he’s the below middle class man grappling with loneliness wanting to have his son by his side. Actually he’s so convincing that it’s hard for you to think of him as a member of the royal Kapoor family otherwise. He gives his best, yet again after a similar avatar in Do Dooni Chaar. He’s just too good, and its majorly for him that you run through the film smoothly.
Anirudh Tanwar is extremely flat. Blame it on the casting directors and then Tanwar. He doesn’t evoke any emotions and you won’t connect with him, even when the plot is pressing you to do so.
Amyra Dastur on the other hand is good and relatable. She does go overboard in some scenes, but the overall appeal is what she creates and you like her for that. She actually acts and well at that.
Aparshakti Khurana in a brief role makes a strong mark, like always. Film after film, he evidently shows that he’s matured as an actor. What works for him here is the city the film is based in. He’s so good in the role of a spoilt brat, that you wish you had him too. He’s magical.
Sheeba Chadha, Diksha Juneja, Raja Hussain and Manurishi Chadha are okay. They are capable of much more, but the plot doesn’t provide them scope.
Music by Hitesh Sonik is average, and no songs are of recall value. However they work well with the plot taking the situations forth. Lyrics too are thoughtful and well in sync with the mood of the time frames.
Donald McAlpine’s camera is decent, but there’s nothing to shout about. The scenes are well lit and the overall piece is bright and vibrant, giving you an inclination towards a happy scenario. Thom Noble’s editing could have been much better. The story doesn’t create an impact majorly because of how it is put together.
Sonal Sawant’s production design is very good, and real for almost all the portions of the film. The film travels to various parts of Delhi and the sets have been done smartly.
The film had the potential. It had some fantastic actors on board. But Rajma Chawal is a clear case of opportunity missed where everything touching and meaningful on paper loses its importance the moment it is translated onto the screen. It wouldn’t have garnered much at the box office had it released in theatres. It’s sad actually.