Domestic Fires

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6dc4a68d3d38bcc3f5cfef04a871dc62-1CHALTE CHALTE. Director: Aziz Mirza. Players: Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Johnny Lever. Music: Jatin-Lalit, Aadesh Shrivastava. Theatrical release.

Working with Mirza no doubt added to Khan’s success during the 1990s (Yes Boss, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman). Still, their last time at bat together (Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani) was less than spectacular, raising the stakes for Chalte Chalte. Even though it looks and sometimes acts like the 2002 Mani Ratnam-derived Saathiya (which Khan incidentally had a small role in), Chalte Chalte packs enough juice to make things interesting.

Khan, usually cast as either the golden boy who must face up to disapproving elders or the sought after prize in a glossy love triangle, is very much against type here as Raj, the struggling owner of a small trucking company. When truck driver Raj gives a ride to Priya (Mukherjee), a successful fashion designer, he gets a little more than his life can accommodate right at the moment. After repeated false starts, Raj and Priya finally hook and agree to set up a household, only to find that loving someone is quite different from living with them.

The romantic chase (the formulaic first half) and the couple’s search for domestic harmony (the provocative second half) are almost two stories riding on one script. What would otherwise be a shoddy mess is salvaged by some beautiful cinematography, the backdrop of picturesque Greek locales (even getting some real life Greek-Indians to play themselves), and one rousing soundtrack.

In the 1976 hit Chalte Chalte, B-film music king Bhappi Lahiri produced the best score of his career. Without attempting to outdo (or even aiming for) Lahiri’s magnificent score, CC 2003 stands on its own with Jatin-Lalit charming up superb duets Tauba Tumhare Ishare and Dagariya Chalo. While CC 2003 slows in pacing towards the end, the music and the captivating song depictions are enough to qualify it as worthwhile viewing.

Aniruddh Chawda writes from Wisconsin, on America’s north coast.

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