Motichoor Chaknachoor movie review: Astonishingly regressive

Shalini Langer
Motichoor Chaknachoor movie review: In holding marriage as the be-all and end-all of life itself, the film keeps returning to this central theme.

Motichoor Chaknachoor movie cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Athiya Shetty, Vibha Chhibber, Bhumika Dube
Motichoor Chaknachoor movie director: Debamitra Biswal
Motichoor Chaknachoor movie rating: 2.5 stars

What came before, Nawazuddin Siddiqui or Athiya Shetty? In the answer to that may lie a key to understanding this film, which is a good enough comedy within the circle of its two families and their many side characters, but is astonishingly regressive in how it treats its men, women, marriage, looks, age, even dowry.

Shetty plays a girl called Anita, better known as Ani, whose only ambition in life is to somehow settle abroad — the easiest route being marriage. One motivation for this is her friends who have done likewise and who now flood her timeline with pictures of their new lives.

Siddiqui plays Pushpinder, the son of Ani’s neighbour, who is pushing 40, works in Dubai and who is, presumably, a virgin given his desperation for a bride.

While it’s clear from the start that this 1 and 1 will eventually equal 2, the film goes out of its way to underline how mismatched the two are, in all departments: Ani is 20-something, tall, fair, beautiful; and Pushpinder is everything but a dream partner for her. There are other, more basic reasons why this marriage seems horribly wrong, but those you know will eventually resolve themselves. To kill any lingering surprise, the film rushes through each of its potential climaxes in remarkably anticlimactic manner.

The regrettable part is that Motichoor Chaknachoor, in parts, hits the nail right on the head. In the limited world and vaulting desires of its Ani, in the fascination that a visa holds for middle-class India, in what it means to be the parents of a girl and of a boy, in the way it dresses its characters through a mild, consistent winter where they pair shawls with saris and those socks with their parting, and even tackling head-on the pairing of a tall woman and shorter man.

However, in holding marriage as the be-all and end-all of life itself, the film keeps returning to this central theme. It’s hard to believe that a woman who walks into a jewellery shop with Rs 4 lakh in cash can’t find a way to go abroad on her own. Queen did it many years back. Pushpinder questions this desire that Ani defines as her “ambition”, asking her to go abroad on her own merit if that’s what she wants.

Ambition isn’t a word one often hears in Bollywood — even Hollywood for that matter. Sure enough, they never finish that talk.