Synopsis – Ujda Chaman is about a 30 -year-old bachelor Chaman Kohli, a Hindi lecturer with Premature Balding and in quest of a beautiful wife. After facing several rejections as a prospective groom because of his baldness, Chaman hits rock bottom when an astrologer gives him a deadline to find himself a wife or remain a celibate forever. This leads Chaman on a Funny and emotional roller coaster ride of self-discovery and acceptance.
My Take – This is truly a unique time we live in, right? Keeping all the world problems aside, for the past weeks we have been witnessing an unsolicited controversy, regarding two films both dealing with the concept of premature balding.
While one has a cast elevated by a bunch of proven actors/ actresses and led by Ayushmann Khurrana, the current content turning gold king, while the other stars Sunny Singh, an comedic actor who is still trying to make a mark as a lead following his supporting work in successful films like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. With this one out of the gate first, and the next one coming out day after tomorrow, it’s time to see who becomes the ultimate bald hero!
Personally, I think Akshay Kumar‘s Bala in Housefull 4, already walked away with the cake.
Being an official remake of the 2017 Kannada film, Ondu Motteya Kathe, this comedy drama from debutante director Abhishek Pathak aims to tackle the genuine issue of male pattern baldness, which triggers severe anxiety and depression as a result of self-esteem issues and lack of confidence, while providing a fun and entertaining watch.
Unfortunately, the interpretation of this serious subject is seriously out of order. It touches upon the problem, makes predictable intermittent jokes and without delving deep into the plot, dissolves into various deceptive and cultural stereotypes.
Despite a sincere performance, Sunny Singh is simple unable to elevate the film’s substandard writing that includes a scene where a character confuses ‘celebrate’ with ‘celibate’ as an excuse for jokes. The writers try desperately to evoke sympathy for its leading man, but Singh never manages to humanize the character, treating him like a stock loser who talks as if he’s mocking a caricature.
What’s worse is that his rejections feel exaggerated, almost never taking us into the character’s inner life, his insecurities or the psychological toll of having a ‘defect’ based on the perception of others. It really is hard to feel concern for someone so unlikable.
The story follows Chaman Kohli (Sunny Singh), a 30 year old Hindi lecturer at a Delhi University who has been trying to get married for the past five years. However, due to his receding hairline, he is unable to find a suitable bride, and is instead often ridiculed. Despite being saddened by his constant rejection, his West Delhi Punjabi family continue to be borderline desperate as the family astrologer (Saurabh Shukla) has predicted that Chaman will be forced into a life of celibacy if he doesn’t get married by the age of 31.
While Chaman remains interested in pursuing beautiful and presentable women like his colleague Ekta (Aishwarya Sakhuja) and the first year student, Aaina (Karishma Sharma), his life takes a turn when he uses Tinder to come across Apsara (Maanvi Gagroo), a confident yet overweight girl, who is immediately approved by his family.
Noble intentions do not always translate into great cinema, and this film is a perfect example. It could have been a fun, slice-of-life film which could have brought a serious issue into general discourse, but loose writing makes it rather bland.
Here, even though you’ve seen such characters in real life and relate to them, you don’t end up being wanting to be them. You are being hammered the same thing over and over to incite a burst of small laughter. However, after an initial couple of times, you end up wanting more. You want the script and the screenplay to deliver, however, it never does.
While the first half of the film tries to be quirky and comic, with the loud humor mainly surrounding the ridicule of a bald person scene after scene to the point of exhaustion, the second half, mostly plays out as a drama and by bringing in the message of accepting people for who they are.
But, mistakenly or unmistakably, the film seems to be giving in to the idea of society’s perception of what is pretty and what is not. For say, if you are tall and dark, you are handsome if you are fair and lovely, you are beautiful! As shown in one scene where Apsara tells Chaman that they have inner beauty which directly translates that being oversized and bald doesn’t make you pretty.
Nevertheless, the film would have worked if the characters were at least likeable. We never get a close insight into the good personality Chaman instead we are shown a man who is desperate and behaves like a pervert and finds different events to find his someone special.
The self-realization part of Chaman comes in very late instead of judging himself by being rejected by many girls, he is too busy judging the people around him. The message film tries to convey becomes a secondary course of action rather than the primary and the unnecessary fun of the characters takes the prime space.
Also why Apsara condones Chaman’s increasingly obnoxious behavior is never quite satisfactorily answered. A film that sets itself up as an anti-romcom, one in which outward appearances don’t matter, makes little effort to explore the inner lives of its characters, particularly its self-centered hero.
Also the humor is quite mixed, it is one thing to derive humor out of a helpless situation but quite another to treat it with condescension. One particular scene which shows Chaman stare at their house help’s cleavage and his mother shouting at the woman to wear better clothes because men are around paves way for an awkward moment, which makes you cringe.
Performance wise, Sunny Singh tries his best to fit into the role of an underdog and turns on an innocent charm. But for most part, his expression remains the same throughout the film, and after a point it stops making any impact. Maanvi Gagroo portrays her character with sensibility, while Karishma Sharma and Aishwarya Sakhuja are effective in their smaller parts. In supporting turns, Saurabh Shukla, Atul Kumar and Grusha Kapoor are fun to watch, with Sharib Hashmi stealing the show with the most impactful role in the film. On the whole, ‘Ujda Chaman’ is an honest attempt let down by its caricature writing.
Directed – Abhishek Pathak
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 120 minutes