Rajam Chawal Review

Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor (right) and Anirudh Tanwar in Netflix film “Rajam Chawal.” The film is a saga of a turbulent father-son relationship between Raj Mathur (Kapoor), a widower, and his son Kabir (Tanwar). (photo provided)

A Netflix Film and Sarthie Production

Produced by: Gulab Singh Tanwar & Aseem Bajaj

Directed by: Leena Yadav

Written by: Vivek Anchalia, Manu Rishi Chadha & Leena Yadav

Music: Hitesh Sonik

Starring: Rishi Kapoor, Amyra Dastur, Anirudh Tanwar, Sheeba Chaddha, Nirmal Rishi, Manu Rishi Chadha, Aparashakti Khurrana, Harish Khanna, Jitendra Shastri, Diksha Juneja as Paro, Akash Dabas, Raja Hasan, Brijendra Kala & others

MUMBAI—Leena Yadav has had a decent record in the offbeat kind of cinema circuit—which means critical appreciation but not commercial success. This film is hardly the fodder mainstream cinema is made up of, even in 2018-2019, and so it gets a Netflix release. This means 191 countries when the figure may not have been neared in Indian movie halls. And for the same reason, I did not review the film earlier.

A saga of a turbulent father-son relationship between Raj Mathur (Rishi Kapoor), a widower, and his son Kabir (Anirudh Tanwar), it begins well, with the two shifting to their old home in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk after the death of Kabir’s mother. This is where she also lived happily, and the family was surrounded by friends. However, Kabir is unhappy as he does not like the precinct, the previous house had HIS memories of his mother, and his music band has to be separated from him.

Here is the first absurdity in the film: old Delhi and New Delhi are not far, far away. In these days when even NOIDA and Gurgaon are satellite townships, it is absurd to show that someone living in Chandni Chowk cannot collaborate with people living in New Delhi!

Anyways, the film tries to go “modern” as other elders convince Raj to go tech-savvy and buy a smartphone and join Facebook to communicate with his silent, sulky son. His son rejects his Friend Request, and Raj is then persuaded to take the identity of a pretty girl from Canada named Tara (Amyra Dastur) and chats with him.

The real Tara aka Seher actually lives in Delhi and has a not-so-pleasant past thanks to stubborn parents and a cad boyfriend. She works at a salon and borrows money from the rich Baljeet (Aparashakti Khurrana), and he tries to woo her in his own brattish and dominating way.

The web of lies lead to massive complications that are obviously set right in the end, but at many points, what happens is too illogical given Yadav’s “realistic” sensibilities – as with all such makers and their work, the situations are overly contrived, the pace slackens too much and weird elongations of the story lead to ennui in many parts, when we realize that these are futile attempts at commercial compromises where none were needed.

Technically skilled (Donald McAlpine’s camerawork is splendid, the production design by Sonal Sawant excellent), the film also suffers because the music – the mainstay of an emotional film in which the main character is a musician – is a big letdown.

If the film stays afloat despite such bloomers and deficiencies, it's largely due to the performances, led, of course, by Rishi Kapoor as the well-meaning yet martinet-like father. Kapoor gets effortlessly into the skin of Raj Mathur, showing his consummate artistry to perfection in every scene. Amyra Dastur is sparkling most of the time, stands up well to Rishi Kapoor in their solo scenes, and Diksha Juneja as her roommate is also brilliant. The older names – Manurishi (doubling up as dialogues and co-scriptwriter), Harish Khanna, Nirmal Rishi, Sheeba Chaddha and Jeetendra Shastri as Anees are excellent. The band members are competent.

Anirudh Tanwar stands his ground in front of Rishi Kapoor, and that’s no mean achievement. The film could have been shorter, crisper, less illogical, and thus memorable.

Rating: 3/5

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