The Rishi Kapoor magic
Rishi Kapoor is doing what all retired superstars should do—devour characters that never came their way when they were superstars. He was the romantic hero in his heyday, pioneering an entire brand of romantic comedies—some of them farcical and some, immensely entertaining. Now, the father of current heart-throb Ranbir Kapoor is ahead of many other superstars, when it comes to acting acumen.
I’ve been looking forward to Do Dooni Chaar, not as much for the comeback of Rishi-Neetu as a lead pair, as for Kapoor’s lead role. After watching Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance, in which he played a brilliant cameo of a Bollywood producer, I wondered where he was all the years since the mid-1990s. In the last few years, he has worked in many films.
The funny bone: Habib Faisal’s film is a riot of comedy and drama.
In debut director Habib Faisal’s Do Dooni Chaar, Rishi Kapoor shows hallmarks of a very competent actor: comic timing, the knack to understand and imagine characters, and the truthful response to imagined circumstances. It is one of his best performances. The script itself, a charming comedy about middle-class aspirations, is written well. The humour has some punch, situations are real and characters have distinctive edges and flavours. The milieu is middle-class and the emotions, neither grand nor petty, just everyday joys and pains of the bourgeoisie, always hungry for some more—a throwback to the kind of cinema Hrishikesh Mukherjee pioneered and later directors such as Sai Paranjape made.
The story revolves around the Duggals: Santosh Duggal, a math teacher in a small private school in Delhi, his wife Kusum (Neetu Singh), a former librarian-turned-housewife, their college-going daughter Payal (Aditi Vasudev), a feisty girl obsessed with cars and iPods, and their schoolgoing son Sandy (Archit Krishna), who is convinced early in life that money can buy the world. The daughter wants a car, and to fulfil this dream, Santosh Duggal struggles with the temptation to accept a petty bribe. The dissatisfied schoolteacher, afraid and torn, represents the “middle-class Everyman” who believes his moral values make his identity. He is the teacher we’ve made fun of in school and now think of fondly—one of his students has formed a Facebook page dedicated to him.
Once the decision to buy the car is made, hilarious situations unfurl, leading to a climax which is rather clumsy and melodramatic compared with the overall tone of the film.
Using music, the director has tried to add drama and reiterate the importance of plot points in the story. The film would have done better with more natural sounds and silences. In most scenes, the music booms annoyingly in the background.
Do Dooni Chaar is a film that belongs to the script and its actors; technical ingenuity is redundant. Singh is playing a lead role after many years (both were cast together for a small appearance in Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal). Yet, her effort does not show. It’s a milieu that she has either observed well, or knows and understands well. Her portrayal of a Punjabi housewife, who is irritated by her husband of many years as well as protective about him, is spot on. The real-life comfort of the actors around each other could have translated on to the screen, where they are comfortably ensconced in each other’s company. The children, played by debutants Krishna and Vasudev, are promising actors.
Watch Do Dooni Chaar also because the schoolteacher emerges a real hero. He is underpaid and struggles to keep pace with a world around him that has changed drastically. He has to buy many things to be happy in this world. As Duggal defyingly says in one of his dialogues, “Can’t we buy cars? That’s nonsense.” Heart-breaking and beautiful.
Do Dooni Chaar released in theatres on Friday.
The other films in theatres this week: Eat Pray Love
The anticipated film adapted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book of the same name, has Julia Roberts playing the lead role as Liz. After an ugly divorce and a love affair gone sour, Liz travels to Italy, India and Bali, where she eats, prays and loves, respectively. It is a boring, shallow film written with the indifference of someone who has never travelled to these places. The heroine is a whiny, lost, conflicted woman—not in an endearing way. Javier Bardem does a cameo, but he seems indifferent too. Liz’s sojourn in Italy, with beautiful Italian food as company, is the the film’s only saving grace.
Boring: Javier Bardem (left) and Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love.
Directed by Ben Affleck, ‘The Town’ is a Boston crime drama. It’s a Boston where armed robbers roam around certain quarters of the town in cars. Affleck plays the role of Doug MacRay, one such robber, who runs a gang. Affleck has received praise for his directorial abilities for this film. It’s a sophisticated thriller.
Mohit Suri’s ‘Crook‘, with Emran Hashmi and Neha Sharma in the lead, is set in Australia. Suri takes a relevant topic—racism against Indians in Australia—and makes the point that Indians can be racist too. It is a love story produced by Vishesh Films of Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt.
‘Eat Pray Love’, ‘The Town’ and ‘Crook’ released in theatres on Friday.