Chintu Ji Movie Review: A small film with a big heart!
Theatre director and writer Ranjit Kapoor makes his directorial debut with Chintuji. You could be mistaken for calling it a small film if you happen to judge a film only by its budget or by the presence of stars. Sure, Chintuji is a small film but it has a big heart. This is one of those films which reinstates your faith in clean, good and engaging cinema, something which was the mainstay of Hindi films in the Sixties and the Seventies when the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee had spearheaded the 'middle-of-the-road' films. Well, Ranjit Kapoor's Chintuji remind us of one of those kind of films. Kapoor's film not only has a set of values that it talks about, it has a definite story as well, which has been extremely well told as well. The cast may lack a star presence buy it sure makes up for it with some all round ensemble performances. The values may be dismissed as old fashioned by many, but one cannot dismiss the fact that they are the bedrock of all things that are good and just in Indian society. This is just the kind of film that one would have expected from someone of the likes of Ranjit Kapoor and he does not fail or let us down. Generally, theatre directors get carried away by their passion and zest to say something meaningful and make a mistake in replicating the language of theatre in films. But Kapoor makes none of those mistakes. He makes a near flawless film start to finish. His inimitable touches are clearly visible in the loving manner in which the film unfolds. No doubt about it, this is a film which has been made with a lot of love. The other beautiful thing about this movie is Kapoor's quintessential humanistic touch which is the keystone of Chintuji. A gentle humour pervades the film as the director brings out the human foibles, never judging. His belief, almost utopian, in the essential goodness of human nature, resonantes in every corner of the movie. Briefly, the film's story is about Chintuji, none other our Rishi Kapoor, who gets in touch with his real self when he visits this quaint unknown town of Hadbahedi, which is nestled somewhere in the great heartland of India. It could be anywhere, that is hardly important. What is important is that it is town where Chintuji (Rishi Kapoor) was born, quite accidently in fact, as his parents happen to be passing through this town on their way to a pilgrimage. A utopian town of sorts, Hadbahedi seems to have been unsullied by the ills and evils of modernisation, till Chintuji decides to visit his hometown. Fired by his political aspirations, he visits Hadbahedi and begin his campaign to enter the political arena. It all begins when he is invited by the denizens of the town to visit them as they hope it will make their town famous. The simple town folk open their hearts and homes for him even as he plays the typical boorish, uncouth, demanding matinee idol, who proceeds to trample on their feelings and is willing to sell himself off to the nearest bidder. All that he has to do is declare that he was born not in Hadbahedi but Triphla, a rival town, full with the vices of modern Indian society. In return, he is promised a Rajya Sabha seat by the political broker (Annu Kapoor). But the appearance of an old Russian actress (Kseniya Ryabinkina), who worked with his father, the late Raj Kapoor in Mera Naam Joker, touches a chord inside him and serves to awaken his conscience. He awakens just in time and manages to redeem himself in his own eyes. Entwined within the story of Chintuji, is the love story of his PR agent (Kulraj Randhawa) and the local newspaper editor (Priyanshu Chatterjee). Of course, the life and soul of this film is Rishi Kapoor, who proves yet again what a marvellous actor he is. It is indeed sad that mainstream Bollywood is yet to give him his due as an actor. People tend to forget that Rishi's career as a romantic hero ran parallel to that of Amitabh Bachchan, and he has delivered the maximum number of solo hits at a time Bachchan ruled the box office like a Shahenshah. But thankfully, even though his days as the romantic hero may have passed, he still has a lot of acting left in him. It is a flawless performance by him, controlled and spontaneous. He is an actor who always manages to get into the skin of his character and manages to make the whole process of acting look so effortless and lifelike. While the entire cast pitches in with very competent performances, the three who stand out are Kulraj Randhawa and Priyanshu Chatterjee. Kulraj, who makes her film debut with Chintuji, is very easy on the eyes and comes across as a very natural and spontaneous actress. She doesn't seem to be suffering from any first-film blues and looks completely at ease, even in her scenes opposite Rishi. A very spirited show by her in this movie. Priyanshu Chatterjee has a slightly more complex role but he acquits himself well. Saurabh Shukla as Chintuji's harassed director is terrific as usual. He succeeds in grabbing all the attention whenever he is on screen. Sophie Chowdhury makes an appearance as an item girl in the movie and makes an impression despite her brief role. Grusha Kapoor puts in a sincere performance, and no prizes for guessing who Annu Kapoor's character is based on. Ranjit Kapoor makes an impression not only as a director but also as a skilled writer. One of the songs in the movie, 'Akira Kurosawa', written by him, is a one of most innovative songs one has ever heard. The entire song is supposed to be in some nonsensical language and Kapoor has used the names of all the famous directors in the world, like Kurosawa, Milos Forman, Fellini, De Sica, etc to make up the song. There is art in the ridiculous as well, as he proves with this song. The film's music is pleasant without being outstanding. The film has been shot well and it moves at a very enjoyable pace. The dialogues and situations are ridiculous at times and outrageously funny at others. Even though the concept of goodness as it is shown in the denizens of Hadbahedi is hard to believe, one buys into it and suspends disbelief as the director makes it very clear in the beginning that it is a utopian town inspired by philosophers like Plato and his Republic and Sir Thomas More's Utopia. Little wonder then that it may be a small film but it has a very big heart. Chintuji is definitely an enriching experience.!