A film which can’t decide whether it wants to be funny, emotional or romantic or a mix of all. As a result it leaves the audience disconnected and confused as well
Through the two hours of Ujda Chaman, all I could think of was the unconventional choice made by director Abhishek Pathak in picking up maverick actors like theatreperson Atul Kumar and Grusha “Tara” Kapoor to play the most cliched of supporting roles: Punjabi parents of the hero. There is intermittent freshness and a slight touch of the genuine to that, particularly in a few scenes of the parents of the girl and the boy bonding with each other, while they themselves remain unsure of the path ahead in their relationship. But, by and large, Kumar and Kapoor get wasted in stereotypical loudness and infantile humour involving mispronunciation of words like testosterone, metabolism and celibacy.
It’s a hodgepodge of a script that starts off being about a young man suffering from premature baldness. Sunny Singh plays the lead role of Chaman Kohli, a Hindi lecturer at Delhi’s Hanraj College, who is in search of a pretty wife but keeps getting rejected due to his bald pate. To make matters worse, the family guruji (Saurabh Shukla) warns that he must marry before his 31st birthday, which is just a few months away, or remain celibate forever. Even as Chaman tries hard to come to terms with his problem, the whole wide world is intent on heaping its cruelty on him, or exploit his inferiority complex for their own personal gains. There seems to be hardly any sensitive, sympathetic soul around other than a possible bride, Apsara (Maanvi Gagroo), who is fighting body image issues of her own
Then, somewhere in the middle, this official remake of the 2017 Kannada movie Ondu Motteya Kathe, decides to change course and becomes about Chaman’s own prejudices. He himself might be “imperfect” but wouldn’t settle for a less-than-perfect bride.
Eventually the film jumps into the familiar commitment-phobia zone, that has been done and dusted in Bollywood romances anyhow. Why there’s even a song Oh Bandeya coaxing the hero to settle down? Its lyrics are nothing more than a rehash of Kabira from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
The film is also unable to get its tone right. It can’t decide whether it wants to be funny, emotional or romantic or a mix of all. As a result it leaves the audience disconnected and confused as well. Should it laugh, cry or simply tear its hair out?
Sunny Singh makes the bland Chaman worse with his insipid, sepulchral presence. The high nobility of Maanvi Gagroo’s character Apsara nothwithstanding, she is the only one who manages to salvage things a bit and holds her own, even though the film tries hard to reduce her to a weeping doormat.
From hair oil to transplant to a hair piece, as Chaman tries to weigh in all the options I was actually left wondering why doesn’t he just see a good hair stylist and get himself a smart makeover instead? That would have saved a lot of agony all around.