Chopsticks Movie Review: Abhay Deol-Mithila Palkar Film Never Rises to Its Potential
Director: Sachin Yardi
Cast: Abhay Deol, Mithila Palkar and Vijay Raaz
You've indubitably had the experience of watching a movie and feeling like you'd seen the story before, just under a different title. Other times, you probably felt as though you knew everything that was going to happen within the first few minutes of the movie.
But when a movie tries to offer up something truly bizarre and new, you naturally take time to process it (in a good or bad way!). Netflix’s latest outing Chopsticks, which is also first Indian original film on the streaming giant, gave me similar vibes. It’s one of those very few movies that spring from the wildest imagination you would never anticipate that filmmakers would find inspiration.
Nirma Sahastrabuddhi (Mithila Palkar) is an introvert, under-confident Mandarin translator, who tends to vie with her fellow colleagues for their boss’ attention in order to grab more important opportunities at work. Even though she is regular and proactive in her job, she ends up showing Dharavi and Dhobi Talao to foreign tourists. While her colleagues deal with international bankers at five stars. Her less developed vocabulary (‘work outing’) and poor pronunciation-- she pronounces the ‘L’ letter in Salmon-- always prove a formidable obstacle to her success.
She is scared and awkward in social interactions as well, until a tragedy triggered her to step up and communicate with the most random people under the sun. Soon, she embarks on a thrilling adventure when she enlists an attractive conman Mr Artist (Abhay Deol) who eventually becomes her guide toward recovering her stolen car from a Mumbai thug.
Now, everyone knows how good Abhay Deol is, but when he decides to switch off and be just carefree, no one looks more scornfully uninterested. Need I remind you about Dev D? Here though, his charm is displayed in just the right way, but unfortunately the script doesn’t allow him much to play with it.
Mr Artist is so cool that he can open any safe or lock without the keys. How? Well, he believes that every lock has a heart and he simply needs to hear its heartbeat to open it, err. Deol is flat-out hilarious in some scenes, but seems to struggle in parts wherein the script doesn’t offer him quirky one-liners.
Deol’s comical smirk of complicity is appealing, and soon we see Nirma and Mr Artist are hanging out, having fun and not admitting to themselves or each other their growing tenderness.
Director Sachin Yardi decently catches the disconnect that comes from being a stranger in a strange land for Mithila’s character, who originally hails from Aurangabad. But somehow that aspect never feels enough. Yardi decides to incorporate all the elements used in a typical romance comedy, but fails to make it look easy- as well as natural and flowy.
There’s a goat-loving gangster, too, in the movie— played by incredibly exceptional Vijay Raaz. However, his scenes are only limited to giving out weird punishments to people which might remind you of Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar’s characters-- Majnu and Uday Shetty, respectively, from 2007 movie Welcome. So, there’s not much there either.
Palkar has matured into an actress of smashing subtlety. She beautifully brings to life the alienation cropped up by Mumbai’s high-rise strangeness in her character. But scenes where she feels anxious and her hand shakes, while her facial expression remains unchanged, look a bit unconvincing. If you have seen Ritesh Batra’s Photograph, there’s a chance you might find a number of similarities between Nirma and Sanya Malhotra’s Miloni.
Chopsticks uses its premise to explore a variety of themes, including loneliness, social phobia and romance. But it only pretends to work towards a climax which turns out to be wholly disappointing.
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