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Babe In The Hood

Friday, May 31, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

The first original Indian film that Netflix presents is Chopsticks, directed by Sachin Yardi, whose writing credits include the Kya Kool Hain Hum films, and he directed something called C Kkommpany, so obviously a Roma (the Alfonso Cuaraon Oscar-winning film) is not expected here.

Somehow, many directors never get over their ‘Bhai’ (gangster) fixation, and try to come up with the most eccentric, colourful or nasty piece of work that they can. But before the film gets into the underworld zone, the viewer is introduced to Nirma Shastrabuddhe (Mithila Palkar), the young woman from Aurangabad (with a washing powder name that evokes sniggers), working as a Chinese interpreter. At her snooty place of work, she is called “behenji” and mocked for her incorrect
pronunciation of English words. Because of this, she is also saddled with taking Chinese tourists to downmarket spots like Dharavi and Dhobi Ghat. She needs motivational audio lesson to cope, and practices eating peanuts with chopsticks!

The day she buys her first car—a shiny red vehicle—it is stolen from outside a temple, where she has gone because her mother said so! The cops promise to help,
but she is advised by a crook to seek the help of the enigmatic conman called Artist (Abhay Deol), given that name, since he has never been caught. He has a wardrobe of white shirts, lives in a dump, with a gleaming kitchen, because along with being an expert safecracker, he is also a gourmet chef.

The gangster is Faizalbhai (Vijay Raaz), with a pampered pet goat called Baahubali, and an in-house singer, crooning his favourite song, non-stop.

The characters are unusual, caught in a plot that goes nowhere. Nirma is given a tour of places slummier than the ones to which she takes her tourists, meets the leader of a beggar mafia and learns some valuable life lessons from the wordly-wise Artist. She is so timid and gullible that Artist agrees to help her, either because he feels sorry for her, or is amused by her predicament.

After a while, the gags run out, the initial charm dries up, the sparks between Nirma and Artist don’t fly; the main reason one would sit watch it, is because Abhay Deol is seen so infrequently on screen, and does this role with the right amount of dry wit. Plus, it is short enough not to be too boring, and one does not have to buy a pricey multiplex ticket to watch it.

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