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November 30, 2020
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The Ujda Chaman review

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Fighting prejudice with prejudice, Ujda Chaman is too shallow to dwell compellingly into the frailties of the human mind, feels Ritu Nandal.

Ujda Chaman is the sort of movie that spends all its time making jokes at the expense of someone’s misery and then has the nerve to offer empathy.

Even the title of this feeble remake of Kannada’s Ondu Motteya Kathe is more mocking than meaningful.

Directed by Abhishek Pathak, Ujda Chaman revolves around a Hindi lecturer’s embarrassment over his receding hairline, which sparks off brawls between his family and the prospective bride’s, incessant teasing of his students and callous remarks among his close ones.

Body shaming is a reality, but the extremes it hits in Ujda Chaman‘s shoddy humour revels in its own unkindness.

 

One half of the movie is purely an exercise in Chaman Kohli’s (Sunny Singh) persecution complex.

Barring a campus peon (Sharib Hashmi), everybody solely exists to torment him — be it the younger brother (Gagan Arora) hitting on the same girl he was hoping to get pally with, parents (Atul Kumar, Grusha Kapoor) who insist on astrological invention, (Saurabh Shukla) that predicts lifelong celibacy unless he marries before 31 and a college principal who assumes he’s middle-aged because of the widening bald patch.

Just as I was wondering why is the college principal acting like a kirana store owner, the fella himself bellows, ‘Maine kirane ki dukaan khol rakhi hai jo change rakhoonga?

Doing their bit as the loudmouth Delhiite Punjabis, Bollywood cannot get enough of, Atul Kumar and Grusha Kapoor’s comic skills are relegated to a shouting match.

The exasperation experienced by the unruly tone of their designed-to-get-on-the-nerves gags leaves no time to feel bad for Chaman.

That could be partly because the actor playing him is Sunny Singh.

The sight of Sunny Singh teaching Suryakant Tripathi Nirala is depressing enough. But his singular sad sack expression attains the gold standard in no good.

Hair today, gone tomorrow but male privilege is everlasting.

The second half highlights Chaman’s own insensitivity after a Tinder tryst leads him to Apsara (Maanvi Gagroo).

Names are deceptive.

If the irony of Chaman’s bare-headed bounty wasn’t obvious enough, Apsara’s plus-sized reality means to drive the point home.

You’d think he’d reserve a little more compassion for those who have it as tough as him over body issues.

Fighting prejudice with prejudice, Ujda Chaman is too shallow to dwell compellingly into the frailties of the human mind.

Instead, the baffling affection shown by Apsara towards Chaman only aids in fuelling his conceit.

As does the sudden interest of a previously indifferent colleague (Aishwarya Sakhuja) after her good-looking beau takes her for a ride.

Maanvi Gagroo is the only sunny presence in this daft, dull, drivel masquerading as a relevant commentary on society’s obsession with superficiality.

Sadly, she shows up right at the interval and is forced to suppress her spunk to facilitate the leading man’s unmerited enlightenment.

The women in director Pathak and his writer Danish Singh’s world are so desperate to tie the knot, they’ll accept any carrot dangled their way.

Wolfing down a bowl of chowmein with Chaman is enough for Apsara to decide he’s the doofus she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Or else, they are cunning shrews like the preening first year student (Karishma Sharma) who persuades Chaman to leak exam questions to her.

Too inept to portray premature balding effects on a man’s self-esteem, Ujda Chaman accidentally exposes how desi parents put so much pressure on girls for marriage, they’ll settle for any Tom, Dick or Chaman.

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