Chalo Dilli

Challo Dilli

Director: Sashant Shah

Cast: Vinay Pathak, Lara Dutta

Rating: **1/2

Mihika Banerjee is the kind of woman who is grossed out very easily. Manu Gupta is the kind of man who burps and farts goodwill all around. So when the two meet, as inevitably they do in this road movie, heavily inspired by the Hollywood classic 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles', which begat 'Due Date' ( also Hollywood, but of a much more recent vintage) , there are initial fireworks which, inevitably, turn the fastidious uptight miss into a rumpled, carefree mess. In a good way.

The only way this sort of film can work is if the two people play well together. In the dull first half, nothing of the kind happens. Both Mihika the not-a-hair-out-of-place CEO ( Dutta) and Manu the 'dukaandaar' from Chandni Chowk ( Pathak) are as cookie cutter as they can get. She is in a tight short skirt with very high stilletoes, with a permanently wrinkled nose. She squeals. He is portly in printed polyester. He is hearty. The plane from Mumbai to Delhi gets diverted to Jaipur and there commences a journey which uses all manner of transport: camel carts, open air jeeps, trucks, trains and yes, cars.

The second half opens up the story, and gets more characters in just when we are about to drowse off . There's a pitstop in a tiny Rajasthan town which boasts a hotel called Red Tomatoes, in whose basement Manuji enjoys an 'only for gents' item number ( at which point it has to be said that Yana Gupta's attempt at reprising 'Laila O Laila' is a total loss). Around about then, Dutta finally decides to let down her hair, literally, getting in a couple more expressions.

Pathak is allowed welcome wiggle room, and some nice camaraderie ensues. A sentimental climactic twist ends up being surprisingly not schmaltzy, and gives an interesting touch to 'Chalo Dilli'. It could have been, though, shorter and crisper.

... contd.

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