If anyone asks me what exactly you mean by the word cringe, A Sooraj Barjatya film would be easily one of the first things that will come to my mind. Even in his last outing with Salman Khan, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Barjatya tried to infuse all that family values type “sanskari” storyline. By those standards, Uunchai, his latest movie featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, and Boman Irani in pivotal roles, is a much evolved and improved film. Barjatya managed to resist his usual lecturing for a significant part of the movie, and if you can forgive him for that melodramatic last quarter which just goes and on, I think Uunchai will feel like a watchable feel-good drama with certain moments that do manage to connect with you.
The movie is primarily about four friends; Bhupen, Amit, Javed, and Om. Bhupen, who belonged to Nepal, always wanted to go back to his land, and he always tried to persuade his aged friends to go for an Everest Base Camp Trek. But sighting the impractical nature of it due to their age, the plan never worked out. But one fine morning, when Bhupen passed away, his friends were in shock, and Amit decided to convince the other two to go for this trek as a tribute to their friend. The efforts to make this journey happen and how it changes them is what we see in Uunchai.
In a way, Uunchai is the Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara of the elderly. Because all the friends belong to different zones in a lot of things, there are flaws in them that need to be fixed or addressed. And over the course of this adventure, they face their fears and admit their shortcomings. This is the first movie for which Sooraj Barjatya is not writing, and frankly, that makes a lot of difference. As I already said, the last act of the movie, which is drenched in melodrama, is the only patch where one might get a feeling that this is a Rajshri film. The two scenes that show how Amit manipulates his two friends to go on this trip had moments where verbal communication was minimal, and it was so fun to watch.
Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of Amit Shrivastava, a well-known writer whose personal life was a mystery to everyone. In the first half of this film, he is that lively life coach, and towards the end, Abhishek Dixit’s script offers Mr. Bachchan a lot of moments to perform. Anupam Kher as Om is perhaps the only character in this story that belongs to the Sooraj Barjatya school of acting. With his experience, Mr. Kher manages to keep Om in a real space. Boman Irani as the flirty Javed was convincing. Sarika gets a memorable role as the fellow traveler Mala. Neena Gupta, as the Kalki Koechlin equivalent, Shabina was fine in her character. Danny Denzongpa had that much-needed grace in his appearance as Bhupen. Parineeti Chopra’s role in the film is more like an extended cameo.
Sooraj Barjatya is trying something different in terms of his theme selection and his team in Uunchai. Amit Trivedi’s music elevates the movie’s emotional graph in many places, and the song Haan Kar De has a peculiar charm to its credit. The writing and editing could have been a lot tidier in the last hour of the movie. It was surprising to see Barjatya, who always made films about sacrificing things for the sake of keeping the family together, going for a theme that asks the parents to think from the side of their kids. It seems like Amitabh Bachchan was unavailable for a lot of scenes that involved trekking, and the visual effects team has done a reasonably good job in pasting him in some of those sequences.
Despite the heavy amount of melodrama that you see in that stretched-out climax of the film, Uunchai manages to connect with the viewer on an emotional level at many points. The cliches and predictabilities are there. But it never goes to the extent of inducing cringe.
Despite the heavy amount of melodrama that you see in that stretched-out climax of the film, Uunchai manages to connect with the viewer on an emotional level at many points.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended