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Upperstall Review



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Chandni Chowk To China


Hindi, Action, Comedy, Drama, 2009, Color

Sidhu (Akshay Kumar) cuts vegetables at a roadside food stall in Chandni Chowk in Delhi. He longs to escape his dreary existence and looks for shortcuts- with astrologers, tarot readers and fake fakirs - believing anything except himself, despite his father figure Dada's (Mithun Chakraborty) best efforts. His redeeming moment arrives when two strangers from China claim him as a reincarnation of a war hero in the past and takes him to China. Sidhu now dreams of wine, women, and a princely existence in foreign lands. Thanks to the devious translator, a conman by the name Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey), little does he know that he is being taken to the Promised Land to rid the Chinese village of the vicious smuggler Hojo (Gordon Liu)! Therefore, Sidhu blissfully sets forth to China with Chopstick who instigates dreams of a delicious future and forgets to reveal the perils, which await him. Along the way, he meets Sakhi (Deepika Padukone), who has embarked on a journey to pay homage to the land of her birth and her dead father and twin. Initially, Sidhu through a series of lucky coincidences manages to sidestep being beaten by Hojo's men but finally Hojo catches up with him and exposes him as the country buffoon that he really is. Sidhu has the fire of revenge in his belly and finds the one man who will make him a Kungfu expert and set the village free. Armed with his Sifu (master), faith in himself and the love of the fair Sakhi, Sidhu sets forth to conquer all!

Chandni Chowk to China takes some time to settle into. If you thought the film is an out-and-out comedy, you’re in for a roller coaster ride. It literally kicks off from the absurd (Akki gets stamped on his derriere by Mithunda as he sends him into geosynchronous orbit over Delhi a couple of times) then quickly gets into comedy and then some drama and then gets spoofy and some more comedy and then a bit of everything. It fails to stay within limits of a genre, crisscrossing at various intervals, borrowing heavily from films such as Kung-Fu Hustle, Goldfinger (Oddjob’s hat), and maybe even Kung-Fu Panda (yes!), bending and breaking its way into a space of its own which does not work for most of the movie, but in the end it all kind of fits in. It’s strange that way.

As Warner Bros first mega-production into the new-look corporatized Hindi film industry (do you think the Hollywoodwalas call it Bollywood? I’d love to know) – CC2C has had massive hype thanks to its up-to-gills promotion. This means two things – you already know the story and you know the film is going to be slick.

The story is simplistic and is a mashup of Seven Samurai (or Sholay if you please) and Kung-Fu Panda with some not so-unique Bolly tracks thrown in (Mithun-‘dadaaa’). The screenplay, as highlighted above, seems like a very studied effort and no doubt on paper it might have fit perfectly into a Syd Field’s graph of 2.2 minutes of comedy – followed by 3 lines of drama – followed by 1.4 minutes of silence, etc. but somehow it just doesn’t mesh together on screen. There are some scintillatingly unique ideas – like the use yet-to-be-invented gadgets such as the dancing bracelets and universal translator, and the Ganpati-shaped potato, but anything fresh is marred by age-old clichés such like that of it being a revenge story (if you strip it all down, it’s basically Ghajini), separated-at-birth twins, their father losing his yaddaash and recovering it seeing a photo, so on. And be assured, these aren’t tributes. It’s sad when even intelligent writers shy away from being totally original and prefer to wallow in the comfort zone of past movies and ideas.

Dialogue is funny and there is a deliberate effort to be spoofy here. Try this: Akki’s got Deepika in his arms and he says: "Mere paas ab iron arms hai, jaldi mere pass iron legs honge, phir iron chhati, phir iron pet, aur phir…," Seems corny? Watch Akshay pull this off. Yes, dialogue is mostly cliché-free.

Technically the film is fine. Good art direction, interesting locations (except they overdid the Great Wall – every second scene cuts to the damn Great Wall!), very good camerawork. The only suspect aspect is sound design. There is just too much noise. The effects are overwhelming. Take the scene when the lover pair is parachuting down a Shanghai skyscraper. Silence. Wind. It works wonderfully, if only some more scenes were treated with restrain sound-wise. And of course the techies at Warner had no idea how to react to the anachronistic concept of dubbing a film, resulting in poor sync. Advani’s direction has come a long way since Salaam-e-Ishq (let’s not count Kal Ho Naa Ho) – this film is ably handled and there are flashes of brilliance – it was never going to be easy to make a spoofy Kung-Fu movie set in China with a Hindi-movie twist, but to pull of the final showdown fight on a Kailsh Kher song – good, innovative stuff!

Performances overall are super. The Chinese (and Chinese-origin) support cast gives it their best shot. Ravir Shorey and Mithunda are alright. Deepika is super as the catty Meow Meow because she has very, very little to say but not so good as her Indian twin because she has to cry and ham and babble lots. Stop referring to your father as ‘dade’ and get some diction training, woman – you’ll be the best there is! And of course Akshay Kumar – shouldering the comedy and the drama with equal aplomb, the man continues to go from strength to strength as a leading-man. He claims this movie to be semi-autobiographical, but I’d rather put this performance down to his constant endeavor to improve as an actor.

Chandni Chowk to China is not going to be on anyone’s top ten list films for sure and it’s not even remotely memorable, but if you’re willing to go have a laugh or two, see Akshay Kumar kick some butt, or just stare at Deepika’s, CC2C might be the movie for you.

Upperstall review by: filmbear

Sidhu - Kailash Kher Chandni Chowk to China - Shankar Mahadevan, Anushka Manchanda, Neeraj Shridhar India se Aaya Tera Dost - Bappi Lahiri, Ravi K Tripathi Tere Naina - Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Ghoshal Chak Lein De - Kailash Kher Chandni Chowk to China - Akshay Kumar, Bohemia





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