I sit still in my seat as the last few scenes of the film flicker on the enormous screen in front of me, pondering the movie experience I have just had. This has been a tradition for me since 1995´s blockbuster film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, the film that made me an avid watcher of Hindi films. These last five years have been filled with some dissappointments (Like Koyla, Mrityudaata, Kachche Dhaage, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani), some pleasant surprises (Like Yes Boss, Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Mann, Mohabbatein), and some great films to remember and cherish in the years to come (Like Mission Kashmir, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil Se.., Yugpurush, Satya, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam). As the patrons of the theater file out, I ask myself which category Raju Chacha falls into. The film is certainly not revolutionary in terms of plot content, but was filmed on a large budget with grand special effects and infused with good performances from the lead trio, including a nice supporting special guest role by Sanjay Dutt, not to mention good music by Jatin Lalit, making Raju Chacha a memorable experience.
With a plot that could have been taken from a Disney animated feature, Raju Chacha has the playfulness of Disney´s The Lion King, with the subtle wit of Aladdin. The film revolves around Siddhant Rai (Rishi Kapoor), a wealthy, widowed architect with three hyperactive children and a brother (Tikku Talsania). The three brats go through many a governess, with orphaned Anna (Kajol) waiting at the end of the line. Anna wins the hearts of the three young children, replacing the motherless void in their lives. In comes Shekhar (Ajay Devgan, silent and brooding as always), a petty conman/thief who woos and romances Anna. All goes well until Siddhant Rai dies, leaving behind three orphaned children and a large estate, with scheming, miserly uncles aplenty, all after Siddhant Rai´s wealth. Anna and Shekhar´s romantic world is put in jeopardy when Anna discovers that Shekhar is a crook. All is lost until Shekhar, in a grand ploy to win back the hearts of Anna and the kids, disguises himself as Raju Chacha, the children´s long lost uncle, younger brother of Siddhant Rai, back to do battle with the evil uncles.
A rich looking film, Raju Chacha entertains and enthralls with it´s wonderful visuals and sweeping scenery. Technically, the film is very well done, with great special effects.
Raju Chacha has good performances from Rishi Kapoor and Kajol. It is a pleasure to see yesteryear hero Rishi Kapoor back on the big screen, this time playing his age (Unlike in Rakesh Roshan´s Karobaar earlier this year, where he played a twenty-something romancing beautiful Juhi Chawla). The scenes between his character Siddhant Rai and the children are among the most touching in the film. Next up for Rishi Kapoor is The Parent Trap remake Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi, also starring girl wonder Kajol, the elegant Rati Agnihotri, and Sunil Shetty. It is also a pleasure to see Kajol back on the big screen after last year´s heartening performance in Dil Kya Kare, a film which touched the hearts of only a select few at the box office. While she looks out of shape in many scenes, she acts very well. Ajay Devgan is perfect in the role of the courageous and brave conman, brooding, silent, and intense. He is among the few real actors in the industry. If he was likeable in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam as Vanraj, the cheated husband with a big heart, Ajay Devgan is just as charismatic in Raju Chacha. The chemistry between the romantic pair is astounding. The rest of the cast supports ably, with special mention going to the cute little kids and Sanjay Dutt, in a pleasantly surprising supporting special guest role.
Music by talented duo Jatin-Lalit is good. From the soundtrack, Shaan´s solo number "Tune Mujhe Pehchana Nahin" and the romantic duet "Yeh Vaada Hai" by Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu are amazing. The songs fit the film like a glove, though Jatin-Lalit´s tunes for the other fantasy film Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya, released last week, were better. The songs are picturized very well, with sweeping landscapes and brilliant cinematography. Direction by first-timer Anil Devgan is adequate. He shows great promise as a director and will hopefully improve with time. The flaw of the film lies in it´s length, which could have been trimmed. Sketchy characterizations, which could have been improved upon, can be overlooked. The film contains a few unnecessary sequences, which is a result of poor editing. Johny Lever has to make an appearence in every film, and it would definitely be much appreciated if he kept his annoying antics, not to mention his ugly mug, out of the picture - permanently. The plot has also been seen in some films in the previous years. How many times have we seen scheming mamas and chachas, after the innocent protagonist´s wealth? And what about the conman with a big heart, falling for an innocent girl, only to be rejected when she finds out of his thieving and lying? Overlooking these minor grievances, Raju Chacha is a polished product. There is no obscene violence or any scantily clad girls dancing to cheap item numbers (This month´s Ghaath being the case in point). This is a clean family film, made the way a film should be, with a lot of heart, and a lot of thought. This film has definitely raised the standards for hindi films in the future in terms of technical aspects. Hopefully, other producers will follow suit after watching this film. So, the evening came to an end and I left the theater happy, humming a few lines of "Yeh Vaada Hai..." as I walked in the cold to my car.