Tag Archives: Chalo Dilli

Movie Review: Chalo Dilli (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

Chalo Dilli is a road trip comedy in which a mismatched pair of strangers are forced to rely upon each other to reach their destination. It’s basically Planes, Trains and Automobiles, only with Steve Martin’s uptight character played by a woman.

That woman is Lara Dutta, who also produced the movie. Dutta plays Mihika, a picky investment banking executive used to getting things her way. She heads to the airport in Mumbai wearing a tight skirt and high heels that look as uncomfortable for air travel as they will be for her inevitable trek through the hinterlands.

Mihika’s journey is disrupted by Muna (Vinay Pathak), a crude cloth merchant with a chivalrous streak. His incessant yammering on the plane prompts Mihika to put on headphones, causing her to miss the announcement that the flight to Delhi has been diverted to Jaipur.

What should be a six-hour drive back to Delhi turns into an overnight adventure for Mihika and Muna, who assumes the role of chauffeur when the driver Mihika has hired falls asleep. The car breaks down, and the odd couple spend many hours together making their way to Delhi any way they can.

This premise should work particularly well in India, with its stark contract between urban and rural environments. The contrast sets up plenty of fish-out-of-water scenarios for city-bred Mihika, who starts the movie disgusted at the thought of flying on a “budget” airline instead of in first class.

But the movie never takes full advantage of its opportunities for comedy. None of the situations Mihika and Muna find themselves in are especially unusual or outrageous. The people they encounter are generally normal and helpful. It makes for a boring trip.

Mihika does get to wake up to a beautiful sunrise in the country and meet friendly locals, which is supposed to open her eyes to Muna’s somewhat odd life wisdom: Don’t sweat the small stuff, because there’s probably something much more serious in your life that you should be worried about.

As much as Chalo Dilli fancies itself an uplifting film, it isn’t really. Manu’s happy-go-lucky demeanor masks an inner pain that manifests itself in cruel jokes at his wife’s expense. The final scene between Mihika and Manu is uncomfortable to watch.

Rather than ending there, the movie tacks on an epilogue montage voiced-over by Mihika detailing the ways the lives of the villagers she and Muna encountered were improved by the experience. The movie gives the contradictory message that the simple life is beautiful, but not so perfect that it can’t be improved by a little attention from some city dwellers.

Chalo Dilli also takes a conflicted view of gender equality. Mihika and Muna argue after he wonders why so many men would be willing to work for her. She accuses him of believing that women should stay home and have babies. So what does Mihika decide to do in the epilogue? Stay home and have babies.

If Mihika had expressed career or life dissatisfaction earlier in the movie, perhaps the choice would’ve made sense. But it’s quite a leap from Mihika making a small gesture, such as delaying a business trip in order to attend a party, to her chucking her whole career to have kids. Axe the unnecessary epilogue and this mixed message isn’t an issue.

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In Theaters August 26, 2011

New theatrical releases are on hold for another week in anticipation of the Salman Khan/Kareena Kapoor-starrer Bodyguard next Friday. Until then, the selection of Bollywood films in Chicago area theaters is limited to Aarakshan at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara at the Golf Glen 5 only. ZNMD‘s U.S. earnings have surpassed $3 million.

This downtime is a good chance to catch up on movies from earlier this year that you may have missed. Netflix recently added Thank You to its streaming catalog, and Yamla Pagla Deewana and Chalo Dilli are now available through the rental service on DVD. YouTube has an impressive selection of free Hindi movies, including a smaller release I reviewed earlier this month: Cycle Kick.

Other Indian flicks showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Telugu films Dhada, Kandireega and Money Money More Money and the Tamil movie Rowthiram.

Opening May 6: Haunted

India’s first stereoscopic 3D horror film, Haunted, hits Chicago area theaters on Friday, May 6, 2011. Like Avatar, Haunted was filmed using 3D technology, not converted from 2D in post-production. The story is about a young man’s love for one of the ghostly inhabitants of a haunted house.

Haunted opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 23 min.

Dum Maaro Dum gets a third week at the South Barrington 30, having earned $483,988 in U.S. theaters so far. Last weekend’s new release, Chalo Dilli, won’t be carried over for a second week.

Other Indian movies playing near Chicago this weekend include 100% Love (Telugu), Chinatown (Malayalam), Engeyum Kadhal (Tamil) and Nenu Naa Rakshashi (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5.

Opening April 29: Chalo Dilli

Chalo Dilli is the only new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area on April 29, 2011. The road trip comedy stars Lara Dutta and Vinay Pathak.

Chalo Dilli opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Last weekend’s new release, Dum Maaro Dum, earned $327,523 in its first week in U.S. theaters. The movie carries over at AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville.

Thank You continues for a fourth week at the South Barrington 30, having earned $451,923 in the U.S. so far.

Not sure why, but the Golf Glen 5 is carrying the 2006 Hindi-English drama Return to Rajapur, which features Frank Langella.

Other Indian movies showing near Chicago this weekend include Akkara Kazhchakal: The Movie (Malayalam), Ko (Tamil), Mr. Perfect (Telugu), Nenu Naa Rakshashi (Telugu) and Vaanam (Tamil) at the Golf Glen 5.