Do Dooni Chaar: Middleclass family story
Rating: 3 out of 5
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Aditi Vasudev, Archit Krishna
Director: Habib Faisal
Do not put two and two together and presume that a small-budget film without any big star value would end up being an average fare. Do Dooni Chaar is delightfully different cinema. It has a solid story idea supported by some excellent acting talents.
Never has the middleclass family been portrayed on the Indian screen with such authenticity since Sai Paranjape’s films or, in more recent times, with the likes of Khosla Ka Ghosla . So here you have a mathematics schoolteacher Santosh Duggal (Rishi Kapoor) who struggles to make ends meet for his family of four. Wife Kusum Duggal (Neetu Kapoor) manages the domestic arithmetic by keeping a tab on the household expenses. Daughter Payal Duggal (Aditi Vasudev) desires for an affluent lifestyle and son Sandy Duggal (Archit Krishna) secretly attempts to upgrade his standard of living by dabbling into betting business.
Santosh’s extra earnings from coaching classes can’t suffice his middleclass family’s high class aspirations. Even a measly raise in monthly income in the form of trivial tax returns has too many takers. But the real journey starts when the scooter-ridden Santosh Duggal decides to buy his family a four wheeler. Careworn between car models, bank loans, EMI and down payments, Santosh attempts everything possible to make his automobile fantasy turn into reality.
The entire film runs on a single conflict (Duggals purchasing a car), yet at no point the narrative gets one-dimensional or monotonous. The solitary dream that the protagonists passionately chase through the film bring back memories of neo-realistic classics like Do Bigha Zameen or the Iranian gem Children of Heaven . However the film, at no point, gets depressing and director Habib Faisal keeps the proceedings lighthearted yet pragmatic throughout and also opts for a happy yet achievable end.
What makes you connect compellingly with the chronicles of the Duggal family is the fact that, at some point or the other in life, you must have certainly come across such characters, conflicts or crisis. The car basically stands as an allegory for anything that you sought or strived to achieve in life. The writing by Habib Faisal and Rahil Qazi is very optimistic and laden with eventful episodes that keep you engaged. The characters are strongly developed, straight out of real life, charming and ones that you can easily relate to. The dialogues have a strong Delhi flavour and are funny, witty and, at times, very thoughtful.
Though Santosh Duggal is susceptible to situations, what makes him a true hero is the fact that he never resorts to anything dishonest. Yet the film never gets preachy in its outlook, despite the fact that Santosh is a teacher. Even when he gets to know about his son’s wrongdoings, rather than getting livid, he takes his son for a roadside feast and strikes a conversation which is casual yet so mature. This well-worded scene is one of the warmest father-son relationships portrayed onscreen in a long long time. Santosh’s bonding with his younger sister (Supriya Shukla) is so endearingly hilarious. Interestingly the younger generation Duggal siblings have no saccharine-coated affection for each other and are absolutely indifferent of each other’s existence – so very characteristic of today’s youth.
Director Habib Faisal resorts to minimalism in narrating a decent and delectable family drama. The characters he creates are likeable and their conflicts are relatable. The climax could have been more interesting. Nevertheless the movie succeeds in sustaining a sweet smile on your face throughout its runtime and that’s an achievement for a debutante director.
Art director Mukund Gupta perfectly sets the ambience for a middleclass house crammed with furnishings. The music by Meet Brothers is peppy and goes with the flow of the film. Aarti Bajaj crisply edits the film never letting you lose the narrative.
This is the perfect return ‘vehicle’ for Neetu Kapoor who gets to portray a well-etched character. Despite playing a mother, she gets to play the central protagonist and is not relegated to being a part of the secondary cast. Both, her beauty and her performance prowess, have not diluted one bit over the years. To see Rishi Kapoor play a suitable and sensible lead character is a treat. The vulnerability, spontaneity and maturity that he brings to Santosh Duggal is admirable. The chemistry between Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor is never exaggerated in the film and yet they seem to be so comfortably compatible with each other.
Both the kids – Aditi Vasudev and Archit Krishna are gifted natural actors, unlike the typical sugarcoated children in most films. They play their parts to perfection. Supriya Shukla and Rajesh Vivek are hilarious. The casting of the film is flawless with even the secondary cast actors coming up with impeccable performances.
This is ‘car’efully crafted charming cinema. Do not miss Do Dooni Chaar !