Motichoor Chaknachoor movie review: A largely unaware script that manages to make meaningful social comment

The story of Motichoor Chaknachoor is limited to Nawazudin Siddiqui and Athiya Shetty's adjoining houses, and their various inhabitants

Udita Jhunjhunwala November 15, 2019 08:28:51 IST

2/5

Annie, short for Anita (Athiya Shetty), claims she is ‘ambitious’. Her ambition is to go abroad and post a picture on Facebook that will provoke FOMO among her peers. It seems the only way to achieve this is by marrying a man who lives, or at least works, abroad. After rejecting almost a dozen suitors — as their status does not fulfil her aspiration – Annie’s parents are at their wits’ end.

Annie’s obsession is no secret. And yet, no one is suspicious when Annie is suddenly interested in her much older, unmarried, recently Dubai returned neighbour Pushpinder (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

Motichoor Chaknachoor movie review A largely unaware script that manages to make meaningful social comment

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a still from Motichoor Chaknachoor. YouTube

In 135 minutes, Motichoor Chaknachoor director Debamitra Biswal takes the audience on a roundabout ride about this odd couple. The story is limited to the two adjoining houses and their various inhabitants. Biswal works well to use this limited setting populated by a cast of characters including Annie’s parents and unmarried aunt on one side, and Pushpinder’s pushy mother, his younger siblings and other members of a joint family on the other. Both houses are determined to get their respective offspring married – but not to each other!

Pushpinder’s domineering mother (Vibha Chibber) sees her two sons as lottery tickets who will command substantial dowries. Annie, on the other hand, is completely against dowry demands. It’s the one progressive stand for this largely superficial character.

Annie’s aunt (Karuna Pandey) persuades her niece to woo Pushpinder, because Dubai is also foreign and better than nothing. Annie, once more displaying an absolute lack of integrity and independence, obeys. Pushpinder, 36, has thus far been dutifully following his mother’s plan. But he’s also been homesick and desirous of family contact. Easily duped by the taller, younger, fairer Annie, it takes time for us to see Pushpinder’s pluck.

The courtship is short and shallow, as is the wedding. In one of the only truly witty lines of dialogue, when a nervous Annie asks her aunt for advice on coping with the wedding night she’s told, “Just close your eyes and think of the Burj Khalifa” (a clever play on the 1900s English phrase ‘Lie back and think of England’). Pushpinder is desperate to consummate the marriage you see, unaware of its one-sided transactional nature.

Half-truths are soon exposed and Annie’s dreams of immigration check fade away. In the most telling moment, Pushpinder challenges Anita on why she needs a husband to realise her dream of travelling abroad. Expectedly Annie has no opinion.

Shetty throws her all into playing that one-dimensional small-town girl, but, pitted against Siddiqui, Chibber etc, the mismatch in aptitude is unambiguous. Within a regressive set-up, Pandey, Chibber and Siddiqui find nuance to their characters. However, the largely unaware script (Meghvrat Singh Gurjar, Biswal) does manage to make meaningful comments on dowry and the aspirational fascination with NRI life.

Rating: **

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