very sensible, very sweet: Cheeni Kum

What I like most about Cheeni Kum is that it is a story about people who are adult enough to know themselves and then behave and make decisions accordingly. Somehow there's a matter-of-factness about the way they relate to each other, and their relationship as a whole, that I found endearing. Here are these two strange little creatures who don't seem to mind that they are different from most other people (though we don't get much input from "other people" in the movie - it's mostly their own little world, which is how it feels at the beginning of a good relationship, isn't it?), and though they quickly recognize their odd-duck partner, we still get to see them trying to work out the conjunction. They're true to themselves but they're careful with the other person. There may not be sugary froth, but it's still sweet as can be.

Now that is a movie love story to covet.

And yes, ordinarily I would be skeeved out by the age difference and angry that two weeks before I saw Cheeni Kum, Shahrukh flirting with Bindu in Om Shanti Om was played as ridiculous, as a joke. I can't imagine that we'll see Dimple Kapadia and Saif Ali Khan having an actual, mutual relationship, one like that in Cheeni Kum,* anytime soon, and that is annoying for its double-standardness. And the way of cultures around the world. Etc. It works here because they're up front about it, they discuss it, and nobody pretends it isn't so. We see them as sensible grown-ups elsewhere in the movie, not as a lech and a plaything.

Really the only thing that bothered me was a nagging question about why the little girl was called Sexy. I'm not buying the idea that it was a nod to letting her taste something of the adult world - after all, she didn't have the experience to really understand what the word means. (I daresay being a woman named Sexy and navigating the wilds of London could be most unpleasant, if at times humorous. Once she got to the jungle of middle school, she'd change it anyway.) And to make that point, they just as well could have called her Home Ownership or Income Tax .** If anyone has an explanation, by all means, do tell.

A good point from my friend Abby, who is in vet school (this is relevant): do you remember where Amitabh and Paresh Rawal are when Amitabh tells him he's dating his daughter? In the loo. In the act. Marking their territory. Maybe not quite so grown-up after all - but if that's the most juvenile a story gets, then sign me up.

* Suggestions for other pairings for a reverse Cheeni Kum are welcome. I also considered Shabana Azmi with either Saif or Rahul Khanna, due mainly to Shabana's gravitas as a film personality. I think the gravitas of the older character is necessary - that keeps the skeeviness in check. The younger player should also not be an idiot, not a piece of fluff. Preferably both have done a range of roles across the seriousness spectrum and are able to handle comedy.

** Fun game! If we want to be very filmi, we could call her Shaadi. Or if we want to be "less sugar," we could call her Trampy...Desperate...Spinster many options.


ggop said…
The sexy thing had only one explanation in my mind - it was Amitabh's nickname which appealed to her and she requested that she be addressed by that name. (And because she was dying, everyone including her father indulged her)

BTW the fasting till I die tactic is employed by many a mom to thwart "love marriages". I knew someone who tried to pull that stunt and caused a breakup :-(
Nirvana said…
hi, for a totally different take on this movie have a look at


Oooh, the PPCC is dying to review this, since we just-a loooves the quirky, mismatched couples. Admittedy, the whole Amitabh-with-a-pony-stub is somewhat offputting, but Tabu's endorsement of this movie is reason enough to overlook that aesthetic mistake. Perhaps not even a mistake! We'll have to watch and see.

Oh dear, provocative nicknames for little girls. Maybe it's just an edgier version of "Cutie" or "Sweetie"?

And opposite couples! The PPCC's NaNoWriMo novel featured a whole slew of our favorite Hindi actors, and in it there are two characters: Vijay, a generation Xth clone of Shah Rukh Khan, and Doctor Azmi (guess which Azmi), who end up becoming, yes, a quirky, mismatched May-December couple. So our suggestion is Shabana and SRK.
Filmi Geek said…
"So our suggestion is Shabana and SRK."

Whatever the opposite of "from your mouth to God's ears" is, PPCC, I am saying that - nay, shouting it from the rooftops, while waving one of the National Flags of Shabanastan (possibly this one) high over my head.

We at the Foreign Relations Bureau of the National Government of Shabanastan do not take kindly to the thought of Shah Rukh Khan sharing the screen with our fearless leader, much less to the suggestion of any kind of romantic entanglement between them - even of the Fake Pretend Movie Variety.

It is simply Not To Be.

Indeed, the Shabanastan Censor Bureau nearly came to blows at a very tense meeting to decide the fate of the very Beth(*) who is graciously hosting this conversation, in regard to the consequences for her of having created this. In the end the Board of Censors permitted her to live - but it was touch and go there for a while. (Granted, some of the Board members are a smidge humor-impaired. If the National Government of Shabanastan doesn't take itself too seriously at times, who does?)

At any rate, *shudder*.

(*) Credit to the same Beth for the concept of Shabanastan.
ggop - I can buy that. It makes sense. Phew! And sorry about that broken romance - trauma-drama-o-rama!

nirvana - Quite different, aren't we? :)

ppcc - Alllll will be revealed in the movie, pony stub, fasting, and all (except Sexy's name). The idea of the Tabu Seal of Approval is tempting, but it is not foolproof - I got very little out of her role in Hera Pheri, for example, other than some fuggable shoes.

Novel-length fan fic? Do tell!

re: Filmi Geek's narrative: IT's true. Having run afoul of the dictatorship of Shabanastan, I can only encourage others to tread lightly. (I'm not allowed to say anything further.) Shabanastan and Shashi Pradesh, while having different constitutions, are known to ally and they have mutual extradition treaties, so I'm not really safe anywhere.

Khanistan, though...that's a different superpower altogether.
I didn;t like this movie too much, to put it bluntly. Maybe, I never got "into" the mood for watching something like this. The whole sentimental scene where Sexy dies, when the audience is supposed to cry, I laughed at Big B hugging a pole.Strange thoughts about whether this had any Freudian implications came to my head.
veracious said…
In my head a lot of younger male-older female would boil down to "young man wanting an experienced woman" type of thing. Then I tell myself, "Akash, you're an idiot" and try to think of alternative storylines. It's all about balance, I guess. I frankly don't really care for couples with age difference, but any unusual pairing that gets interesting, believable treatment in Indian cinema is worth checking out, IMO.
bird's eye view said…
Hey Beth,

I enjoyed this movie too but had a slightly different take, over at
Hans Meier said…
Like you, i found the movie delightfully grown-up, yet highly entertaining, and regretted the retarded hints at Hindi movie follies like the talk at the urinal.

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