Cast: Sunny Singh, Maanvi Gaagroo
Director: Abhishek Pathak
Some of my favourite things about Ondu Motteya Kathe (of which Ujda Chaman is an official remake) are how unlikable the protagonist is, and yet how endearing the film turns out to be; how it captures that small town-ness of Mangalore, how quiet it is, and how everyone’s personality comes through. How slowly yet steadily the plot progresses towards Janardhana’s acceptance of who he is, and in turn who Sarala is. His baldness overwhelms him, but it is not all he is, we are shown other aspects of his personality. He loves actor Raj Kumar, he really likes Kannada and corrects people when they are wrong. Hell, he even writes love letters in chaste Kannada, and there’s a superb set up in which, his pride wounded, he tells off a Tamil marriage broker that he, a Kannada man is capable of finding his own bride.
Abhishek Pathak has set his remake in Delhi and bafflingly rejected everything that made OMK work. None of the things I liked about the Kannada film make it to the remake. Instead, what we have is a loud, often boring film that evokes very little by way of emotion. I would have loved to hate the protagonist Chaman Kohli. Instead, I felt indifferent. Sunny’s face is devoid of any expression that can show what kind of angst Chaman’s gripped by. This coldness pervades through the script and the film. The background music tries to do all the work of the emoting, loudly, and it remains a major source of irritation.
Raj B Shetty was confronting an inner demon with OMK and it showed. Here, it is simply a parade of tedious scenes, as we wait for Chaman to show some semblance of being human. While Janardhana was painfully self-aware, Chaman is clueless and, just so… blah.
Chaman is 30, bald and is being rejected by all the women in the arranged marriage market when a swamiji predicts that he will remain celibate if he doesn’t marry soon. His family asks him to find himself someone. The movie is about his attempt at finding that someone who will see beyond the baldness. Unfortunately, the movie gives us so little to understand him. We are never shown who he is — apart from a Hindi lecturer in search of a woman. (He even dates a student in his desperation, but she’s after something else altogether.)
Maanvi Gaagroo who plays Apsara, his Tinder date is superb and is among the few people in the film who brings the screen alive. She seems earnest and real but we never see why she likes Chaman. That arc was way more convincing in Kannada. Here, it is just convenient. (Grusha Kapoor as Chaman’s mother is great and shines in her small role, but there’s only so much the two women can do to prop up this film written without any feeling.)
There’s a Shakespeare-sque misunderstanding and Apsara and Chaman who think of parting ways as friends because neither likes the way the other looks, end up being almost engaged. Until Chaman finally musters the courage (if we can call a whatsapp message that) calls it off on the day of the engagement. At which point, I was already exhausted, because I knew he had to now feel bad, have a change of heart, learn his lesson, and have a happy ending.
All of this he goes through, with a poker face. Without any sense of anguish spilling over to his life or face. Nothing is ever at stake in Ujda Chaman.
The Ujda Chaman review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.