“Waise bhi, kaunsi badi baat ho gayi…”
Chalo Dilli is a road trip which starts off in Mumbai, heads towards Delhi, somehow ends up in Jaipur, manages ultimately to reach Delhi, and even then, refuses to end. Mihika Banerjee (Lara Dutta), an investment banker in Mumbai is off to Delhi and she seems to be destined to travel with Manu Gupta (Vinay Pathak), a saree shop owner in Delhi, in a way that can only be possible in a Bollywood movie. Right from the very beginning, they keep bumping into each other, even before their trip begins, and after that it becomes as predictable as a Ram Gopal Varma film crashing at the Box Office.
The film starts off on a vibrant note and then gradually lets you down. At times, it progresses normally only to be ruined by something as nonsensical as the ticket checker on a train dancing to a guy singing while the rest of the compartment clap and cheer him on or a Bengali couple who try very hard to speak Bengali but fail miserably.
There are also errors in the continuity of the film. For example, Mihika loses her bag and all her belongings except her handbag. Even then, when she manages to reach a cheap hotel in Jhunjhunoo, she manages to freshen up and put on a brand new dress without a hint of a crease on it. Also, she mysteriously manages to replace her broken shoes for a pair of stilettos, in the middle of nowhere.
Vinay Pathak manages to pull off a crass, but happy and carefree Delhi businessman with ease. Lara Dutta tries very hard to be a snobbish, rich banker and almost manages at certain places. Almost. But at times she goes a bit too overboard. And those times are seen a bit too frequently. Akshay Kumar plays a cameo towards the end of the movie, and proves that he’s best suited to roles that do not require the viewer to endure him for more than 10 minutes at a stretch. And thankfully, since he doesn’t crack any jokes, he is almost bearable. Again, almost. Yana Gupta manages to pull off all the right moves. Her item number is raunchy and is sure to attract a lot of whistles.
The film should have ended after reaching Delhi. But just like most Bollywood film maker, Shah could not resist adding an emotional angle to it for the Indian masses who are ever willing to sympathize with the characters on screen. So, there is a wife in coma who is introduced right at the end and the viewer is taken through the depressing reality of Manu’s life, wife and kids, which adds 15 excruciatingly long minutes to the film.
However, not everything about the movie is that bad. Some of the dialogues are witty and funny, though they come in long intervals. The Delhi style of speaking has been nicely captured. The songs are catchy and fun. There is a particular shot in the movie, where Vinay Pathak is riding a cycle in the night with a young boy, which is beautiful and stays in your mind long after you have left the theatre.
Overall, it’s not a brilliant movie. But you wouldn’t be wasting your time by watching it once.