CHOPSTICKS REVIEW - Superb premise let down by a flat narrative

CHOPSTICKS REVIEW - Superb premise let down by a flat narrative
Movie Rated

A gangster with a soft spot for his well-built goat named Baahubali whom he plans on sending to championships, a budding chef with an uncanny knack for opening locks, a scarecrow of a translator who's lost her car on the very she'd bought it; these three quirky characters define the course of Netflix's latest Hindi original Chopsticks, directed by Sachin Yardi. An interesting premise in the offing? Yes. Does that translate into a wackily impressive film? No. The ideas in Chopsticks invite our interest, but the writing never builds on them sufficiently enough in the course of a leisurely paced 100-minute narrative. Nirma Sahastrabuddhe is alike many people we notice in our daily jobs. Efficient but not suave enough. Smart but not valued enough. Can't speak out loud but yet need their jobs. So, what happens when Nirma loses her much-valued i10 to a car-lifter at a temple? She is asked to meet a guy, who could do the job for her. A guy who knows every trick in the book to unlock pretty much anything in the world. How and why? We're as clueless even after watching the film. How does the duo manage to recover the car from a goat-loving, perilous gangster? Here's a supposedly-crazy ride that loses steam rather quickly and settles for pointless feel-good streaks over purpose. In the weirdly alluring world of Chopsticks, there's little that can be done if a filmmaker settles for a very realistic film. This is a story that had to be executed with an element of mischief, flavour, and naughtiness. It's not that the film totally misses the plot. Watch out how the filmmaker intelligently utilises two versions of the song 'Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhaana' to describe the plight of the gangster in different portions. The gangster also slaps a caterer for delivering a plate full of mutton biryani to his goat. The film needed this mode of craziness all along. The director, instead, softens the script and makes everything look 'nice', so that his characters feel likeable. Even the gangster at the end of the film is someone with a good heart. What is this fascination for sugarcoating pretty much everything? The film could have really come alive with the protagonists' plot to kidnap the gangster's goat. But this segment leads to such a drab climax that kills the purpose of the film. Even the pseudo-realistic tone in the film doesn't work. Say, Abhay's character helps Mithila come of age and stand up for herself. They two share a supposedly romantic equation. So, why would a middle-class millennial settle for someone who would unlock safety lockers for a living? There's no reason why the girl behaves extra-friendly with the guy. There's no foundation for the relationship at all. The conversations hardly have the weight to take their relationship forward. Though there's an interesting reason that the female protagonist provides for taking up the job of a translator, this dimension lacks justification in the story. The film wouldn't have changed if she were a corporate professional too. And the director calls her 'Bali ka bakra' and labels the goat 'baahu-bali'!? (we didn't understand the connection too). Revealing the story behind her name Nirma, she says she was born the day, her father had bagged the contract of the popular detergent franchise. Abhay says, thank-god she wasn't born on the day of an iPhone launch. She would have been named Apple, he jokes. Yes, that is an adequate example of humour we see in the film! Mithila Palkar here is the Bollywood equivalent of a mindless, spineless yet cute heroine, a.l.a a staple character arc given for the leading ladies in Tamil and Telugu films. Mithila being a talented actress does the best she could, but only with the danger of she getting stereotyped in this damsel-sans-a-mind space. Abhay Deol is a capable actor beyond a doubt, but he's too settled, relaxed and laidback for a film like this. His character needed more liveliness Vijay Raaz sparkles briefly. Netflix may have had interesting ingredients on its table, but the dish they serve is utterly flavour-less. Like how the film is named Chopsticks but a girl teaches the Chinese crowd about the joy of eating with one's own hands! Rating: 2/5  


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