So "Plan" is not your kind of movie. "Chameli" may not be either, but it sure is worth risking a ticket on. An original script directed in a highly restrained, romantic style, "Chameli" is a keeper.
It is a dark and stormy night. Coincidence brings a young investment banker, Aman Kapoor (Rahul Bose) and a prostitute, Chameli (Kareena Kapoor) face-to-face in Mumbaiâ€™s underbelly. Chameli is looking for routine business and all Aman wants is a mechanic to fix his car and get out of that place. Over the course of the night, he finds numerous opportunities to leave, but doesnâ€™t take them. Instead, Aman finds himself experiencing a nasty slice of his city that he didnâ€™t even know existed, all thanks to Chameli.
A two-hour long movie set in just one night cannot really accommodate much of a story, and director Sudhir Mishra chooses wisely to focus on characterization instead. "Chameli" is about the emotional growth of its protagonists, specifically, the ability to understand and establish trust. Mishra does take a tip or two from De Sica as he moves his characters around the city a la "Bicycle Thief" and in turn creates a quasi-urban exposĂ© amidst the pouring rain and muck.
The writing (Sudhir Mishra, Shiv Subramanium) is strong and the dialogues (Swanand Kirkire) strike a chord due to their subtlety. Strong writing leads to well-defined characters, which in turn leads to good performances. Aman Kapoor comes out a hero, helping the damsel in distress, but Rahul Bose underplays him with the complexities of a real human being. Bose impressively externalizes Amanâ€™s internal guilt all the way to its resolution. Kareena Kapoor, though a little difficult to accept initially as a prostitute, grows immensely into her character. As the interaction between Aman and Chameli develops, we soon begin to forget Kareena, the star, and are completely engrossed in Chameli. The romantic subtlety with which Kareena Kapoor exposes Chameliâ€™s tragic life is a treat to watch.
"Chameli" is beautifully shot by Aseem Bajaj and has brilliant music by Sandesh Shandilya. Though the pacing of the film does slow down at times, impressive performances and strong direction make "Chameli" a pleasure to watch. A mature film crafted for an emotionally mature audience, this one is not just different, it also works.