This has been on my mind for quite a while, but I have been procrastinating a lot about doing this review because how can you take the effort to sit down, glide your fingers on the keyboard, in the process strain your shoulders, to write about a movie so bad that it had your eyes and brain having a seizure?
Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but maybe I expected a bit too much. I mean, when the movie bears the promise of the talents that are Mithila Palkar, Abhay Deol and Vijay Raaz, you would be as stumped as me: what did I just watch?
What did I just watch or a nearly one and a half hour debacle that is Chopsticks. Also, title of your sex tape.
The movie opens with a naive, underconfident, travel agent, perhaps in her mid 20s – age matters because her antics will make you wonder which 20 something act like this – living and working in Mumbai, who listens to self empowerment tracks – I’ll kill them with success and bury them with a smile(kill me already) and has just bought a Hyundai, giving a detailed explanation to the sales representative why the numbers of her number plate adding up to 11 is unlucky. He is unable to help her out, quite like the capability of these actors with regard to the screenplay: nothing and no one can help it.
She goes to a temple to get her car blessed, and on that very day, loses her car! This much the trailers had told us, yes, along with the fact that she in her all naivete has voluntarily given her car away to be parked by this Tom, Dick and Harry who comes out of nowhere and says he’ll park it for her. Picture the scene: a crowded, narrow lane, with people bustling about with their business. It is evening and lit with dim street lights. Will you give your car away to any random person offering to park it for you in a place such as this? We think twice before opting for valet parking in a fancy, high end restaurant or hotel. A place like that? No way. But not Nirma Sahastrabuddhe. And now that I have mentioned her name, they have tried to pull a Virus aka Viru Sahastrabuddhe on her, because it’s a source of “humour” – “like that washing powder?” asks the policeman when she goes to the station to file a complaint. Sigh. Oh Bollywood.
Then, at the police station, she meets this another unknown man, who has been arrested for some crime who comes to know of her plight through some means, and gives her the contact of this man simply called “Artist”. After a lot of deliberation – oh you know, the chit of paper receives much camera panning, as she goes about her life, one eye on it, as day becomes night and then day again – she takes the plunge and calls him up.
Artist, oh! what do I say about him. Played by Abhay Deol, he is expected to be Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom 2 but is – I can’t even think of a comparison. Maybe like Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone in Crimes of Grindelwald: all hype but no show. Artist lives in a neglected under construction building, in a tiny bedroom cum hall, with an old fashioned TV and a fancy chair, and, hidden by a makeshift door of an aluminium sheet, there’s a grand white tiled, white paned kitchen, with Artist clad in white shirt and black pants cooking salmon (pronounced “sah-mon” he tells Nirma and us) while wearing shoes. For my desi heart, that was too much. Later in the film, when Nirma asks, “why do you always wear black and white?” – she has known him for exactly a day by the time she has asked that question – he quips a philosophical, totally unasked for statement about how everyone stays in black and white but no one admits it. Talk about trying too hard. But this is just the nitty gritty of it. Artist has been described as a “con artist”. I guess he is, because the only person he is trying to con is us, the viewers of the film because we don’t see him live up to his job description. Rather, he should have been called a “chef/cook/culinary artist” because that gets more emphasis than his trailer ascribed “profession”. The only time some “con” happens is when he breaks open a safe for which he asks for the manuel, which is written in Chinese, whose exactly one line Nirma translates, which reads: this safe is impossible to break in and Artist proceeds to show otherwise. Yay.
Anyhow, she gets him to help her find her car, that leads him to do the following –
- When stuck in a traffic jam, because a politician has decided to stop all hum drum and celebrate for some reason, complete with a band and his envoy of party members, Artist walks up to the band, whispers something in their ears, and they begin playing the National Anthem. The politician is shamed, everyone leaves because “once the national anthem is played, you can’t do anything else”, people whisper his name – “that man in white did that”, and Nirma is blown away. I can literally hear the Rin ad’s BGM play as he walks back to his car dressed in spotless white. But more importantly, how is this even happening in Mumbai? I am from Mumbai and I know for a fact that people there aren’t that passive to take any sh*t from any one. Including a politician.
- Introduces her to Chotu, who operates the CBI – Chiller Bank of India – and enlists the services of semi naked brown kids to count coins, and speaks of a network of beggars , complete with a Whatsapp group, who will help her identify the man who stole her car.
- More jokes on Nirma’s expense (see: detergent).
- Fooling Nirma into believing the real notes are fake as she buys an iPhone to be used as a bribe in return for her car and has the salesman chasing her through the mall only to find out that the notes are real. The point: none.
- Gives her a lesson on life about there being another option, always, as he has her dangling near the edge of the building when she complains of quitting her job as the only available option. Talk about hard hitting lessons.
Through these antics, we are also introduced to Vijay Raaz’s character, Faiyaz Bhai, a gangster who steals cars, bullies people into submission and loves his pet goat, Bahubaali. Faiyaz Bhai is the movie’s only saving grace. He is interesting, he is funny, he is mean, and he loves his goat convincingly. Conviction is important because that is what this movie lacks.
Cutting to the chase, Nirma finds out that Bhai has her car but it is still intact because the goat has taken a fancy to it. Artist and Chote are unwilling to help because it is Faiyaz Bhai. Nirma takes matters in her own hands, and a goat exchange, a chase through CST and an emotional blackmail which involves dishes cooked in goat meat and a speech on “this is how it feels to lose what we love” later, Nirma wins her car back. But not my time spent in watching this.
Yes, the movie does have a few good points…I think. Like the way she stands up to this another random guy who keeps asking her to have her WiFi checked for which she retaliates by cutting off the cable; her quiet resolve in dealing with her colleagues and the demands set by her boss – the former mock at her lack of polished English and refined social skills, and the latter is exasperated by her inability to work on herself. Me too, Zacharia (a sincere portrayal by Achint Kaur in her limited screen time); calling out the policeman’s casual response to her case that had she been the Superintendent’s daughter she would not have merited such a treatment; and teaching the Chinese how to eat biryani with their hands, instead of chopsticks.
I did try to think of the symbolism of the title. Why Chopsticks? In a scene intended to invoke a sense of “aww”, and hint at a potential romance between the two leads – more like naw – Nirma struggles to eat with chopsticks. After watching the entire film, and not even bothering to watch the entirety of the end credits which has Artist joining a culinary competition hosted by Sanjeev Kappoor in a cameo, and having his identity known on national television, I understand the symbolism of chopsticks: ye humse na ho payega aka I can’t.