Bollywood films centered on marriages of convenience/circumstance blossoming into full-fledged love stories have been done a dime a dozen. From Ajay Devgn-Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to Shah Rukh Khan-Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and from Dharmendra-Rakhee in Blackmail to Amitabh Bachchan-Hema Malini in Desh Premee, they have been a sizeable number of Hindi films that have either touched upon this theme as part of a larger narrative or have completely revolved around it. However, only a handful of them have managed to pull it off 'with a difference', and they're the ones that are truly remembered. So which side of the fence does
Motichoor Chaknachoor fall on? Let's find out. What's it about
As gathered from the trailer, Motichoor Chaknachoor deals with the bond between Pushpinder Tyagi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Annie (Athiya Shetty) — how they start out, their reasons for coming together, the journey they take together, and the changes it manifests in them both as individuals and a couple. While Annie's small-town girl cannot think beyond finding a man whose her ticket to settle abroad and boast about it to her so-called friend circle, Pushpinder's Dubai-return ageing-bachelor's immediate and only goal is to find any woman to tie the knot with before the society he lives in deems him too old to be a groom; the beauty of said woman is but a bonus at his stage in life. It's not hard to comprehend then how these two find it quite convenient to ignore the other warning signals and enter into marriage with eyes on the larger goal. However, the truth always has a strange way of surfacing, followed by complications that are bound to arise when that truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Whether they're able to resolve these complications and view each other as more than mere prizes forms the rest of the plot.
The performances and dialogues are what keep us interested for most parts. Nawaz is...well...Nawaz, and it's his brilliance that elevates even the most mundane scenes in the film. How he manages to infuse dollops of humor or evoke poignancy even when the script doesn't merit such emotions are some of the major reasons, which hold our attention even when the script doesn't deserve it.
However, he couldn't have performed this salvaging act alone, which brings us to the surprise package of the movie —
Athiya Shetty. Who'd have ever thought that Suniel Shetty's baby girl had it in her to go toe-to-toe with one of the best actors our country has ever seen, making everybody sit up and contemplate how her earlier screen credits criminally underutilized her talent. From getting the accent spot on to displaying the perfect body language and mannerisms to acing her expressions to never once appearing jittery before her pro of a costar, Athiya is a revelation to behold. I dearly, dearly hope that she lands better projects in future because her talent demands recognition from a larger audience.
Beside them, the third and last pillar balancing the floundering foundations are Bhupendra Singh's dialogues, ranging from laugh-out loud funny to genuinely emotional to breezily charming. The supporting cast does a good job, too, but remove any one of the aforementioned pillars, and the film would fall flat.
While the premise had potential, barely the surface of it is scratched. Instead, writer-Director Debamitra Biswal is more focused on establishing small-town dynamics and getting the milieu right. And there's nothing wrong with that had it not taken center stage over the actual plot and central characters. Additionally, in going all out to establish small-town ethos, it seems that Biswal justifies the stigmas and regression still plaguing these areas (I'm not sure if it was intentional, and maybe it isn't, but it certainly doesn't send across the right message). There's just too much of fat-shaming, an uncomfortably casual approach toward patriarchy, and an excessively light-hearted approach toward the dowry system, so much so that its solitary remonstration, which occurs way too late, almost seems like an afterthought.
Plus, it's confounding why Athiya is painted as a villain while Nawazuddin's actions, though stemming from vested interests, are usually justified. An episode of domestic violence also provides shocking excuses. Leaving all these troubling factors aside, if we to merely dissect the film, it's besieged with problems of its own from a weak screenplay to middling direction to a farcical climax. Suhas Gujarathi's camerawork, Praveen Kathikuloth's editing, and Tariq Umar Khan's production design while not problematic, do nothing either to elevate the film.
If you wish to be treated to another superb show by Nawazuddin Siddiqui or revel in Athiy's actual talents or be charmed by some well-conceived dialogues, then Motichoor Chaknachoor might be given a shot. Otherwise, there isn't really all that much here to make it a worthwhile watch. I'm going with 2.5 stars.
Rating : 2.5 out of 5
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