Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chup Chup Ke, or, Let's Keep My Fangirliness on the DL

I expected Chup Chup Ke (Secretly) to royally suck. There, I said it. Despite my Shahid fangirl achievements (he is the Official Paisa Vasool--Or Not Mascot, and revels in that status no matter what his publicist tells you) I don't consider myself blind to all things bad about my Hero No. 1. In fact, he has only one big hit under his belt as far as I can tell, which means that every role leading up to that hit probably just served to mark time till Imtiaz Ali came along.

And I was right. Chup Chup Ke does kinda suck. But it does so in a mostly harmless fashion, so it's not "beat-your-head-against-the-wall" suck or "give me back my money" suck (although had I had the opportunity to see it in a theater they would've known my wrath)--just a "geez, that could've been better" suck. And my fangirliness will give that a pass, although I don't expect non-residents of the ShahidPyaarFest Loony Bin to agree.

Here's the set-up: Jeetu (Shahid) is a village-level shmuck engaged to Pooja (Sushma Reddy, who gets the most out of her role in the totally pointless opening song). He had a lot of big ideas and now is left with a lot of debt. He tries to commit suicide so his father (Anupam Kher!) can collect the insurance money from his death and pay off the lenders. (He takes care to tell the many witnesses to say it was an accident so the policy will pay.) Instead of dying, Jeetu gets caught in fisherman Bandya's net (Rajpal Yadav, also known as That Guy With The Gun-Shaped Lighter in Kal Ho Na Ho) and fools everyone into thinking he's deaf. (Apparently he's convinced that being deaf also involves being more than a little intellectually deficient. If I were a deaf person, this might prove to be offensive. But I'm not so I can't speak with certainty.)

Bandya's--friend? Or maybe brother? Some guy, anyway, named Gundya (Paresh Rawal) decides to basically indenture Jeetu and Bandya to Prabhat Singh Chauhan (Om Puri!) in exchange for money Gundya owes Prabhat. Hilarity involving shirtless young studly men and language mix-ups between Gujarati and Hindi ensues. Almost all of it escaped me and I was left sneering at the screen, daring the movie to disappoint someone with no expectations.

Finally we get to meet Shruti (Kareena Kapoor! yay!) who is mute but not deaf. She has a close relationship with her brother Mangal (Suniel Shetty! double yay!) and her cousin Meenakshi (Neha Dhupia), but not so much with her uncle Prabhat. There's some sort of difficulty getting her married, I guess because of her disability, and there's a permanent wedding tent set up in the garden, but I wasn't really paying attention to that subplot.

Then Jeetu gets drunk, thinks to himself, "I haven't heard my own voice in a month! I long to hear my own voice!" aaaaand bursts forth in Sonu Nigam's voice instead. This was my cue to burst into laughter that may or may not have been intentionally baited. While he's singing, Jeetu gets busted by Shruti and Meenakshi. More hilarity and misunderstandings ensue...

And suddenly, during the second half, I actually started liking this movie. Despite a way too slow execution and way too much slapstick humor and way too much hamming (Rajpal has what would've been the Johnny Lever role just six years ago) something about Shruti's and Jeetu's story, once it actually started, got me smiling. It helped, too, that Suniel and Kareena have a very convincing brother-sister vibe going on; they were super-sweet together and I found myself thinking "Awwww, cute!" more than once. In fact, this was the most stereotypically Bollywood Bollywood movie I've seen in a long time: broad acting, long set-up, tons of narrative bunny-trails and good music that comes out of nowhere. That might explain half my fondness for it.

Another thing I liked was the visual pallette: the movie has a series of white-on-white sets and clothes, with intermittent bursts of color and dancing that made me happy in a very Bollywood way. Two of the musical numbers, "Ghoomar" and "Aaya Re," made the most of that set-up, and perhaps it's no coincidence that they also ended up being my favorite songs. I got to see Shahid dance a lot, which always makes me very happy of course.

It was kind of funny, because I expected either for Shruti to be singing in fantasy settings only or for her never to express her feelings via song--but then it wouldn't be a Hindi movie! In fact, the way the film-makers did it was to have Meenakshmi "sing" the female vocals for her cousin with the understanding that she was expressing Shruti's feelings. It was an odd approach but I guess it worked okay. And Neha Dhupia actually had my favorite performance in the film, as nuanced as something this broad can be; I want to see if I can find more films with her. Anyone have recommendations?

So, in the end I'd call Chup Chup Ke neither a total loss nor a total win; instead, with judicious use of the FF button it's a preferable alternative to yet another reality show whose ending you just know is more scripted than any Hindi film's. And it does have a few really fun songs. And Shahiiiiiid! Shahiiiiiid! If all else fails you can mute the sound and freeze-frame on him!

The Official Mascot says, "Puh-lease, you know any movie I'm in is worth watching."


  1. Ajanabeeeeee... did you see Taal? I haven't, but I do know that Shahid Kapoor has a tiny, split-second cameo in that as one of Aishwarya's backup dancers. I believe Beth has capped the relevant moment.

  2. There's a scene involving Rajpal Yadav, in which he goes from washing clothes to playing cricket with Om Puri and eating (or trying to eat) bread. That scene is easily among my top 5 all time favorite comedy sequences. Made the film worthwhile, I tell you.

    I liked it. I also thought 36 China Town and Fida were decent. Of course, it helps to have Kareena around :o)

  3. A mute Kareena? Oh, dear-- Must've been interesting!

    I don't know about this one. The images you've chosen are tempting, though!;) And, yes, I could also watch Shahid read the phonebook!

  4. Chup Chup Ke was rather thanda stuff. There was nothing exciting throughout the film. I totally agree with your 'it's not "beat-your-head-against-the-wall" suck or "give me back my money" suck'. LOL! Very innovative writing there! :)

    Have you watched Neha Dhupia's Mithya? Even Ek Challis Ki Last Local is pretty good. Abhay Deol is her co-star in that. Try these.


  5. I actually liked all the silly comedy and thought the Shahid-Kareena romance was pretty cute. What spoilt it for me for Shahid's ex who refused to stay ex. So, if I could cut out the last 30-40 min, I'd have loved the film! :-) Apart from Jab We Met, I thought Kareena-Shahid were great in 36 China Town - I loved that movie but it doesnt seem to be very popular in the blogging world for some reason. Have you seen it?

  6. Actually, it might surprise you to know that Vivah was a much bigger hit than JWM. That was the true turning point in Shahid's career.

  7. PPCC--I have seen the crucial moment, although I've yet to see Taal itself. I even directed Beth to a better screencap. Fangirl? Yesssss.

    The Bollywood Fan: *That* scene was freaking hilarious, esp. when he tried to bite into that bread that was more like a stepping-stone. I actually laughed out loud. And yeah, Kareena makes more movies worth watching. ;-)

    Nida: You know, she did a really good job of emoting without using her voice. I was really convinced. (This is coming from someone who likes Bebo, though.) I'd be interested to hear your take on it. C'mon... It's better than the phonebook, I swear! LOL

    Bhargav: you're right, nothing exciting but nothing offensively bad either. Thanks very much for the Neha Dhupia recs; I'll check them out. I think I might actually have Mithya in my Netflix queue already.

    Bollyviewer: Yeah, Pooja was ridiculous. I think she was supposed to be but it was very annoying. I've got 36 China Town in my next ten movies to view, so I'll be sure and post about it when I do.

    Anonymous: Gah! I *always* forget about Vivah and I know I really shouldn't. You're right, I know, about it being his real turning point (wish he'd do another film with Amrita where she doesn't play such a prim-and-proper miss); unfortunately its allure goes right over my head, which I consider a failure of my constitution. ;-)

  8. Neha Dupia did a good job in this movie. Kareena too was able to emote well as a dumb girl.

    Some of the comedy scenes esp those of Rajpal Yadav were really good.

    Some song picturisations too ie visuals

    In short, there were some good aspects in this movie. However it flopped.

  9. I avoid this movie whenever its playing on TV,mainly because Rajpal's overdo act. I hate Loud comedies.

    But the way you have put it over here, I think Now I should watch it. [with FF]

    Yes, song picturisation was lovely. I loved 'dil wich lagya vey' - great colors with whites.

  10. Hee! This was an okay film - the real problem (I felt) was that Shahid cannot quite carry an entire film by himself. He works better as part of a jodi - with Kareena in Jab We Met, for example.

    That said, "Dil Vich Lagya Vey" is one of my all time favorite picturizations and SUNIEL SHETTY is looking very good all throughout the film.

  11. I think he's got to be involved in better films. Put any actor in Shahid Kapoor's shoes and give him the roles Shahid's played, and Shahid has probably done better than most would have. I hope he finds the right director and project some day soon, because I feel old, and this kid is older than me, and time will eventually run out.

  12. This was just an okay movie. It wasn't a movie I'll re-watch but I've seen it so long ago.

  13. Anonymous: I agree that Kareena and Neha did well; however I'm not surprised it flopped given its shortcomings.

    Darshit: the parts that weren't utterly ridiculous were actually kind of good, IMO, so you might end up liking what you see if you keep the remote in hand. ;-)

    Filmi girl: I think Shahid can, he just hasn't been given a good enough script yet. See below. And I am soooo biased. LOL But heck yeah, Suniel looks awesome--I love to see him in non-villain roles. :-D

    Bollywood Fan: I totally agree; he's done better than most would in the roles he's been given, it's just that most of them haven't been great.

    But! I do not despair! After all, Saif had almost a decade's worth of flops until at 31 he scored Dil Chahta Hai, and SRK had DDLJ at 30 (although to be fair SRK had only broken into films three years before that so he earned his success in a much shorter time).

    Shahid's only 27 (are you really younger than him? your writing voice is so mature you fooled me LOL), has Vivah and Jab We Met under his belt, and despite its shortcomings KiKo made back its cost at the box office, so he's got a few more years before I give up.

    Nicki: Yup, "okay" is probably the best description for it. I think I'll probably pick it up at Induna, though; it's only a couple of bucks.

  14. That's a great point about Saif. Dil Chahta Hai was a lot of fun, and I really liked how the three complemented each other so well. Kudos to him (and Shahid) for keeping at it, although they've always been popular, which must be motivating.

    We might have discussed this before, but I'm quite looking forward to Paathshala with Shahid and Ayesha Takia!

    Ref - the age comment, it's true :) Although I wasn't kidding about feeling old...maybe it's just a progression in life, LOL.


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