Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Neena Gupta, Sarika, Parineeti Chopra, Danny Denzongpa
Director: Sooraj Barjatya
After a six-year-long break, director Sooraj Barjatya adds a bit of ‘Uunchai’ to the big screen.
Bound by friendship, three aged friends namely Amit Shrivastav (Bachchan), Om Sharma (Kher) and Javed Siddiqui (Irani) embark on an expedition to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal. The bond between the aforementioned and their beloved Bhupen (Denzongpa) is neatly summed up in the introductory song ‘Keti Ko’.
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Every sunrise begins a new chapter in life and gently closes another. The morning after Bhupen’s extravagant birthday celebration folds into his demise, leaving his companions in great shock. Still digesting the absence of Bhupen, the characters begin to ponder: “if not now, then when”. It only took his death along with a poem dedicated to his lover, the mountains, and pre-bought tickets to the Everest to persuade the trio for a trek as homage.
Bringing a twist to the popular Bollywood style road trip films, ‘Uunchai’ presents one the Barjatya way! In Bhupen’s own words the mountains are the answer to all hidden dilemmas. And yes, with every climb uphill, each character’s back story is tenderly unwoven.
Amit as a successful writer has separated from his wife, leaving him at the mercy of loneliness and Alzheimer’s. The grumpy old Om runs a tiny dusty bookshop in Delhi and his stubbornness is unprepared to succumb to modern capitalism. And, jolly good fellow Javed is the owner of a lingerie shop with an overly protective wife Shabina played by the evergreen Neena Gupta.
The group is later joined by an unwelcome traveller named Mala (Sarika), who turns out to be Bhupen’s love interest from the past. A smooth sketch.
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The film progresses with elements of on-the-road comedy here and there and the mandatory pit stops for khaana (food). Besides the organic humour, the dash of drama will make you smile and shed a little tear. Afterall, just like the Kishore Kumar classic playing in the background, Yeh Jeevan Hai… (life as we know it).
There are lessons at every step of the way, from Delhi all the way through to Kathmandu. The writers amplify valuing lost morals, adapting to changing times and individuality in a marriage. The generational cracks are exposed by the young trek guide, Shraddha (Chopra), who comes across as a tad inconsiderate.
While the perfect ensemble of cast gives each character its own credibility with their fine acting, the cinematographic visuals can charm you with the grandeur of the Himalayas. Beautiful landscapes combined with stellar performances, Uunchai is a warm treat to enjoy with the family.