In recent years, Bollywood has been churning out a number of offbeat comedies—the pioneer of which is probably Ayushmann Khurrana, given that a majority of his films belong to this genre. (Ayushmann Khurrana has Bala lined up next week with a similar theme as Ujda Chaman) While some of these films are comic capers, there have been a few that have also dealt with a serious subject through satirical undertones. Ujda Chaman, the latest of the lot, is a black comedy that addresses such a key issue for today’s youth.
Set in Delhi, Ujda Chaman is the story of a college lecturer Chaman (Sunny Singh) who suffers from premature balding. As a result, he hasn’t had much luck with girls. His family tries to fetch an alliance for him but these attempts keep failing on account of his baldpate. Adding fuel to the mess is the family pandit (Saurabh Shukla) who advises Chaman’s family to get him married before he turns 31 on account of his horoscope. Amidst all this chaos, Chaman meets a bridal make-up artist Apsara (Maanvi) who is quite cool about her obesity. The duo’s interactions, likes and dislikes form the crux of the film. Will Chaman find his soul mate?
Ujda Chaman is the official remake of the 2017 Kannada flick Ondu Motteya Kathe that was earlier remade this year in Malayalam as Thamaasha. Both the films, particularly the original, received rave reviews for the balance it struck between humour and the message it wanted to convey. The lead performances in both were a major factor too. In Ujda Chaman, Sunny Singh isn’t as efficient as he could have been but he alone isn’t to blame for it as his character sketch is half-baked.
While the story from Raj Shetty (who wrote the original in Kannada) is retained, the screenplay has been revamped with Danish Singh’s script. Although this ensures that we get to see a drastically different film, the final product doesn’t quite reach the levels that Ondu Motteya Katha or even Thamaasha did. The main reason for that is the writing which fails to establish the emotional connect that the others have managed to do. Even as a comedy, things don’t work out well. The dialogues also seem outdated with several jokes falling flat and the double-entendre ones making viewers cringe. Given director Abhishek Pathak’s credentials, this is a poor outing.
In fact, the humour in Ujda Chaman is problematic too beyond a point. The baldness joke is stretched and even more baffling are the interactions between the main protagonists. Apsara’s weight issues are also used to create laughs and to be honest, a lot of it seems crass. Sunny Singh does his best to salvage a below-average script but to no avail. Atul Kumar and Grusha Kapoor as his parents are quite fine, playing the typical desi Indian parents perfectly. Maanvi is equally good, if not better than the rest, as the charming modern-day woman who is unfazed by her physique.
Prior to release, the makers of Ujda Chaman were tangled in a controversy with the producers of Bala due to the similar nature of their themes and the dash to release first. Eventually, Ujda Chaman has hit the screens first and it’s safe to say that it hasn’t matched expectations. With Bala slated to hit the screens next week, it will be the interesting to see how each film fares at the box-office.
Ujda Chaman is yet another instance of a remake not living up to expectations. Perhaps, adapting the same screenplay might have helped but obviously, changes are inevitable when you want to remake a film in another language. Ultimately, it is the revamped screenplay that derails the film.