Film: “Khajoor Pe Atke”; Director: Harsh Chhaya; Cast: Manoj Pahwa, Seema Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Nagesh Bhonsle, Dolly Ahluwalia, Alka Amin, Suneeta Sengupta, Vicky Arora, Birendra, Kishore Chougle; Rating: **
Actor Harsh Chaya’s directorial debut “Khajoor Pe Atke” is an engrossing tragi-dramedy about the lives of the Sharmas, who gravitate to their Mumbai home. The film is about the interpersonal relationships of this family during a crisis situation.
The film opens in Lucknow with Jeetendra Sharma (Manoj Pahwa) receiving a call from his nephew Alok (Vicky Arora) informing him that his dad, Jeetendra’s older brother Devender’s condition has deteriorated and he is now is in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital, in Mumbai.
Emotionally rattled, Jeetendra informs his other siblings – Ravinder (Vinay Pathak) who is based in Indore and Lalita (Dolly Ahluwalia) their sister who is based in Bhopal.
Anticipating a tragedy, the trio reluctantly land up in Mumbai along with their families. But Devender lingers for several days, supported by a life-saving equipment with tubes attached. As the days pass, the family members find themselves having to deal with each other in a way that most of them seem unprepared for. What follows is a series of interactions between family members that takes the term, ‘family drama’ to an extended level.
The weakness of this film is its predictable tale. The film never builds up enough momentum – emotional or narrative, to get the viewer on its side. At times, the screenplay feels influenced by TV and theatre which is, not an unreasonable association considering Director Harsh Chaya’s involvement with the medium.
The strength of the film is its tongue-in-cheek humour. The writers take many true, basic real-life incidents and mine them for comedic gold. The dialogues are razor sharp and hit the right notes.
This is one of those films where the comedy prefers to accentuate the characters’ peculiarities, deficiencies or eccentricities – than pursue slapstick. Because of this, Lalita aka Lali and Kadambari – Devender’s wife, shine. Lali is obsessed with tantric intervention to save her brother’s life and Kadambari in her bouts of depression is constantly on an eating binge. For most part, ‘Khajoor Pe Atke’ elicits quiet chuckles than full-bodied guffaws, although there are some laugh-aloud moments.
The characters, most of them are presented as selfish and myopic in the extreme and are all the more amusing as a result. They all perform competently with natural flair for comedy. The senior actors playing their generation seem like seasoned professionals, while the younger lot seem like fledglings who hold their stead efficiently. Notable among them are Manoj Pahwa, Dolly Ahluwalia and Vinay Pathak as siblings, Seema Pahwa as Sushila – Jeetender Sharma’s wife, Suneeta Sengupta as Anuradha – Ravinder’s wife and Alka Amin as Kadambari – Devender’s wife.
As for the younger lot, Sanah Kapoor as the flighty Nayantara and Mayur More as her brother Sharad, Vicky Arora as Devender’s only son Alok, Kishore Chougule as the ward boy Ganpat, Pratamesh Parab as Rocky and Daljit Singh Gujral as Aaditya – Nayantara’s love interest – all have their moments of on-screen glory.
Overall, mounted with moderate production values the film is a mediocre fare worth a Sunday watch on television.
By Troy Ribeiro