Monday, June 30, 2008

Chori Chori, or, "How I Married Your Family"

The excellent Memsaab recommended Chori Chori over at the separate-but-equally excellent Post-Punk Cinema Club a week or two back, so I immediately moved it to the head of my Netflix queue. (Memsaab also has some great screencaps of this movie at her site.) I love me some romantic comedy! Alas, the U.S. Post Office failed me, but at last I received my copy of this 2003 movie starring Rani Mukherji, Ajay Devgan, and a bunch of other cool people. (Oh, okay, also starring Sonali Bendre, Kamini Kaushal, Tiku Talsania, Smita Jaykar, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, and Shashikala.)

Khushi (Rani) has a name that means "happiness," and she's aptly named. Even though her only companion for Diwali is a stuffed monkey improbably named Jonathan, she still makes the effort to celebrate the holiday and have a good time. When her cousin gets married suddenly, Khushi comes up with a lame excuse to get out of work. Her boss isn't buying it, but Khushi pretty much expects everything to go her way due to her (very real) charm and deviousness so she takes off anyway.

Upon her return, however, she is seriously out of favor with her boss, who eventually fires her and kicks her out of her apartment, because he is her landlord too! (Note to self: do not accept job offers from landlords.) Khushi at the last moment remembers that some guy at a party she helped cater had an empty house way far away and decides to crash there for a while.

That guy is Ranvir (Ajay) who just got rejected by the woman he loves, Puja (Sonali). With a true introvert's distaste for making a show of his feelings, he hid his love for her until he randomly drove her up to his huge unfinished house and said, "It's your engagement present!" Puja doesn't want to be married to such an emotionally constipated throwback and turns him down flat. His family doesn't get him--they're all loud and happy types. And he isn't able to share his goals at work with his boss, so his career's going nowhere. With all that working against him, maybe he has some reason for walking around with a sulk on all day long!

Khushi heads on up to Ranvir's home, where, while in the process of setting up house she fools everyone into thinking she's Ranvir's fiancee. She finagles her way into a free lunch with Puja and makes up a cock-and-bull story about how she and Ranvir fell for each other, thus impressing Puja with Ranvir's "romantic" side. His family finds out and decide to welcome her into the family in style, complete with loads of presents, which suits Khushi just fine--until Ranvir shows up and freaks out, with some justification.

Just as he's about to do something violent to Khushi, Puja drives up. Ranvir is stunned to hear Puja confess that she'd never imagined how romantic he can be until Khushi opened her eyes. Realizing that there's a way for all this to work in his favor, he hires Khushi to pose as his fiancee until jealousy works its magic on Puja.


Khushi is an adorable scamp, always with an eye to her benefit but also ready to befriend loners and outcasts. She's made her own way in the world through a combination of con-artistry and sheer gall. She's never been enfolded with the sort of love Ranvir's family offers, however, and it's that warmth and sense of belonging that begins to suck her into the wish that she can continue the charade permanently. I imagine Ranvir's own brooding good looks don't hurt either.

Ranvir, on the other hand... Well, I kind of agreed with Puja. I couldn't figure out why Khushi falls for him. I've watched the movie twice now and I still can't think of any sort of kindness or romantic gestures he performs to lead her to love him. Ajay does a good job of playing a social ignoramus, so it's not his performance I'm dissing. It's just that, until the last five minutes of the film he does nothing that would have persuaded me to stay with him. We know how he feels, because we get the benefit of his song picturizations, but what does she get? I felt like Khushi wanted him more for his family than for himself. Now I know that one marries a family, not just one person, and in Hindi films this is especially true, but...

Also, the sweaters the women wear in the film are really funny. That's just a Superfantastic Bollywood observation--I really don't think Indian women wear sweaters with the midriff halfway removed but I could be wrong.

I think my final call on this movie is that I love it for the family bonds it depicts. The value placed upon familial ties is one of the main reasons I adore Bollywood films, and this movie really makes great use of that theme. As a romantic film, it doesn't work so well for me. Still, it's definitely worth the price of admission, and the soundtrack is pretty cool too.

Note: My 9-year-old neighbor watched Chori Chori with me, along with my own kids, so I asked her for her take on the movie. If you have any sort of suspense about how a romantic comedy should end, you should avoid the next paragraph. This is what she had to say:

"It's a love movie. One of my favorite parts was when, um... when they were trying to make the other woman jealous but she kept on dancing and he had already walked away. Like, they're lying to each other, but at the end of the movie they actually like each other. I liked it, but I didn't love it because she talked too fast so I couldn't read the words."

(Really, I don't know why I bothered adding anything to that.)

11 comments:

  1. The movie chori chori is a fine triangle loves story.Rani and Ajoy did well but the movie was a flop one.

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  2. Hi Saheli! I read elsewhere that the movie didn't do well (I think memsaab mentioned it). But that doesn't surprise me since things I like tend not to have succeeded at the Indian box office. I don't know why that is!

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  3. That is true for me too: if it's a hit in India, I probably won't like it (with of course exceptions like KKHH). But if it sank without a trace...sign me up!

    Perhaps it worked so well for me because I do have a thing for Ajay anyway. I love his brooding dark looks. And I really love the supporting case and the songs are great :-)

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  4. Memsaab: fittingly for the film, the supporting cast really made the movie work for me. And I LOVE the song they sing to try to get Ranvir and Khushi to make up. I think I re-watched it 3 times in a row. :-)

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  5. Like memsaab, I too have a soft spot in my heart for the brooding Ajay, especilly in Raincoat and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam where he really gets his brood on.

    I enjoyed your review. I have an idea. I loved seeing your 9 year old neighbor's take on the film and how you wrote: (Really, I don't know why I bothered adding anything to that.) LOL. Whenever she or your kids watch with you again just add the succinct kid review at the end. That would be great! I showed about a dozen 7 to 10 year olds DDLJ last summer at the park and they were mesmerized.

    All the best!
    Sita-ji

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  6. Sita-ji, I loved Ajay in HDDCS. I haven't seen Raincoat yet.

    And I'm glad you liked my little neighbor's review. She's convinced she's famous now that she's mentioned in a real blog, so I have no doubt she'll be begging to give her two cents' worth on lots of other films. ;-)

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  7. "Ranvir, on the other hand... Well, I kind of agreed with Puja. I couldn't figure out why Khushi falls for him."

    She falls for him because she practises enough romance for the two of them and to maintain the sum total of romance in the universe at a constant level, she has to fall for someone who is romantically inept.

    This movie was seriously, meltingly, romantic. That song where Ranvir imagines the two of them singing Aate aate aa gaye paas hum is soooo turn-into-mush romantic....

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  8. LOL, I like your theory. And you're right, that song is beautiful, if it's the one I'm thinking of. That's where the last picture in this post comes from, right? It was super-sweet, in the best way. It's just that it was all in his head!

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  9. I saw this movie a year and a half ago and never wrote about it because I thought it was totally blah. Then I discovered that not one (Memsaab) but two (http://exoticandirrational.blogspot.com/) writers I respect love it, so I watched it again. I still have nothing nice to say about it - except that, like your neighbor, my favorite part is the end of the song when Rani keeps dancing without noticing the song is over, which is HILARIOUS and very meta - so it remains unreviewed at BLB.

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  10. How funny! I need to go read that other blog--I'm always interested in more BW fodder. Now, must go look up definition of meta, because I have run across it a bazillion times and *still* have not realized what it means through context.

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