Rating: One and a half stars:
Going by the permanently morose expression on the face of the protagonist of Ujda Chaman, it seems like hair loss is equivalent to a terminal illness. It is true that most people tend to– deliberately or inadvertently–slot people by physical appearance, and anyone not ‘normal’ by their standards, can be mocked without a qualm. Hence, terms like takla, jaadiya, sukda, kaaliya, double battery are routinely used. Political correctness be damned.
Be that as it may, losing hair young as Chaman (Sunny Singh) does in the Abhishek Pathak film (official remake of 2017 Kannada film, Ondu Motteya Kathe), is not so traumatic for a man, as it might perhaps have been for a woman (an earlier film Gone Kesh took a look at that). Nor are people constantly ridiculing a balding man, like students of the Delhi college where Chaman teaches, who just never let up.
Leaving aside vanity, Chaman’s bigger problem is that no girl wants to marry him. He has cut himself off from his friends, because, at thirty, he is the only single one left. To rub it in, his younger brother (Gagan Arora) has an endless stream of girlfriends. Chaman’s noisy parents (Atul Kumar-Grusha Kapoor) have been told by an astrologer (Saurabh Shukla) that if he isn’t married by age thirty-one, he will remain celibate forever. The film’s idea of humour is to make the presumably educated parents so dumb that they don’t know what celibate means, or for that matter, testosterone, metabolism or virgin!
Chaman’s only confidant and adviser is the happily married college peon (Sharib Hashmi). On his suggestion, Chaman stalks other teachers—all of whom have boyfriends; though the prettiest of the lot (Aishwarya Sakhuja) is so desperate to get married, that when she breaks up with her guy, she is willing to marry Chaman after one dinner date.
But before that, Tinder matches him with Apsara (Maanvi Gagroo–charming), who has been jilted by her boyfriend, because she is overweight. Like Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal (2001), the actress has been made to wear a fat suit, and like the eponymous character (Jack Black) in that film, Chaman does not want to settle for a fat girl, and cruelly ditches her. Of course, she must be eager to marry such an unappealing man, because, well, she is not a guy magnet. However, during the brief part that she has, Apsara comes across as the most sorted and non-hysterical among the other characters in the film. Both sets of parents are super annoying.
Ujda Chaman tries to ram home the message that people should see the inner beauty of a person, but how Chaman hits upon this realization is ridiculous. For a comedy, this film has very little humour, and aggravates more than it amuses.