To make a good remake of a movie had never been easy and the statement goes true for the newly released movie Ujda Chaman. A remake of the Kannada film Ondu Motteya Kathe (2017), this film marks the directorial debut of film producer Kumar Mangat’s son Abhishek Pathak.
The storyline revolves around a 30 year old Chaman Kohli (played by Sunny Singh) who is a resident of Rajouri Garden and professor of Hindi at Hansraj College. And he also draws a monthly salary of 70K and owns a car and a scooty. Alas! Such an eligible bachelor Chaman suffers from premature balding and hence is unable to get a suitable bride for him. He is shown being constantly ridiculed by the students in the college for his receding hairline which leaves one with a doubt, whether the students really had in them the guts to tease their professor so openly. And why not? The college also has an insensible principal who has been portrayed in a very callous demeanor in the movie. Aside, do principals ever ask a student to call another professor by names just because he doesn’t have the change for two thousand rupees? That was enough of a jolt for me as my parents were professors and I have a huge respect for the profession. No wonder Mr Pathak has made a mockery of the same.
Alas! Such an eligible bachelor Chaman suffers from premature balding and hence is unable to get a suitable bride for him. He is shown being constantly ridiculed by the students in the college for his receding hairline which leaves one with a doubt, whether the students really had in them the guts to tease their professor so openly.
Though Chaman with his prosthetic make up for his baldness looks assertive, his doleful expression in the entire movie compels you like telling him that there is more to life than only whimpering over the precious hair. So we find Chaman who, ridiculed by the entire universe, except the commiserating peon in the office is actually in search of a bride. To add to his misery, he had been told by the family astrologer (played by Saurabh Shukla) that he will lead the life of celibacy if he doesn’t get married off within age 31.
Let me shift the lens from Chaman to the various women showcased in the movie. Starting with Chaman’s mother, Sushma Kohli (played by Grusha Kapoor). While I understand Punjabi’s are loud though I should not be making such a type cast statement, but it just refuses to sink in me that a mother gets reduced to a fighter cock with each prospective bride’s family when it comes to their refusal in tying knot with her son because of his baldness. She pampers Chaman and his younger brother Goldy (played by Gagan Arora), who is actually a womanizer. Gosh! I too have a daughter and I certainly won’t like a mother in law like Sushma for her and I am sure you now know the reasons why. Once again director Pathak had failed to etch the character of an ideal mother in Sushma. And sadly the crass humor in the movie adds as a fuel to the fire.
Now Chaman is advised to look for love as arranged marriage wasn’t working in favor of him. Here we catch a glimpse of the second woman whom Chaman meets at a marriage ceremony. Chaman tries to find love in her but it proves futile. Here again Pathak had showcased chauvinism at the best where the woman had been depicted in a very poor light. She had been seen two timing with both Chaman and his brother Goldy. Ultimately everything leads to a confusion and you keep scratching your head thinking if this scene was really pertinent? Are women so easily available just for entertainment?
Once again director Pathak had failed to etch the character of an ideal mother in Sushma. And sadly the crass humor in the movie adds as a fuel to the fire.
Next comes lecturer Ekta (played by Aishwarya Sakhuja) whom Chaman tries to woo but gets rejected as she is already dating someone. Though later Ekta gets dumped by her fiancé and tries to win back Chaman but alas she was late. So again we find a manipulative woman in Ekta.
All of a sudden, Aaina Ali Khan (played by Karishma Sharma) a first year student reveals attraction for Chaman calling him by the name “Chomu”. Mind you it is a teacher student relationship and I really fail to understand how a muddle headed Chaman falls for a student. We breathe a sigh of relief when the affair fizzles out and we find Aaina had actually hung out with Chaman for her personal interests/gain. The rejection feel well anticipated and superfluous almost never taking account of the character’s inner turmoil – his insecurities, or the psychological toll of possessing a defect based on others perception.
I now end this narration with the heroine Apsara (played by Maanvi Gagroo). Apsara plays the role of an overweight woman who gets connected with Chaman through tinder. Initially Chaman fat shames her but ultimately the director gives a filmy twist and the movie ends with a predictable note. Writes Ankur Pathak that it’s condescending to feature humor through helpless situations. Udja Chaman uses societal fat phobia as a device. It isn’t interested in exploring the idea of body positivity as much as it is hell bent on exploiting it for laughs, including a tasteless scene where the lead couple meet with an accident because of the woman’s weight. Instead of critiquing the pervasiveness of such regressive attitudes, Ujda Chaman participates in it, becoming the very thing it set out to question. The redemption is too weak, too hurriedly arrived at, and laughably tokenistic in its outlook. Maanvi Gagroo is an obviously gifted actress but her fidelity to the role cannot markdown the loopholes of the script and the lack of unfeigned skill in Pathak’s direction.
Since the entire universe is busy reviewing the movie from Chaman’s point of view I decided to write on the shoddy portrayal of the female characters etched in the film. And the movie deserves only one star out of five. Director Pathak needs to show some maturity handling female characters. Gone is sexism. This is era of feminism and Pathak better gets that in his head.
What a waste of time, money and energy. Good that my daughter said she wouldn’t come for the movie but would make sketches of dinosaurs instead.
Featured Image Source: The Indian Express