Chopsticks – review (Netflix)

      Ummm. I don’t know. I really don’t know what to make of Chopsticks, an Indian language film showing on Netflix. It is a sweet film and definitely an enjoyable watch. It is well directed by Sachin Yardi, who also came up with the story. The amusing screenplay is by Rahul Awate. 

    As I mentioned, the film is beautifully directed, with great shot selection, locations and flow. The acting also is very good in the film, especially Mithila Palkar, who plays the central character of Nirma and Abhay Deol who plays Artist. 

    At one hundred minutes long, it is a nice length and moves along at a good pace, with no unnecessary scenes stuck in to pad out the runtime. Still, I don’t know. Let me tell you why. 

    Nirma (Mithila Palkar) is a slightly naive and unconfident young woman. She is excited to be picking up a new car she has purchased, even though she has reservations when she sees that the numbers in the plate add up to eleven. She feels the number is unlucky. The salesman explains that he does not pick the number plates. 

   She works as a translator and tour guide for Chinese tourist visiting India. Her boss and colleagues treat her with disdain, resulting in her getting the less prestigious jobs and having to do slum tours made popular by Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. 

    After work, Nirma wants to give an offering to the gods and takes her new car into town. Unable to find anywhere to park, a kindly man gives her a ticket and tells her he will park her car for her. Nirma gives him the keys. She goes and offers a pray and returns, looking for the valet. He is nowhere to be seen. She finds a policeman and shows him the ticket. He tells her it is a restroom ticket. Her car has been stolen. 

    Nirma goes and reports it stolen to the police. The officer tells her that she will get her car back. Nirma leaves and sits outside the station to eat something. She meets an arrested thief. He tells her that she only has three days to find her car, otherwise, it will be stripped down for parts or shipped out of the state. 

    The thief tells her he knows a person who might help her. He gives her the number of Artist. She calls him. They arrange to meet and she finds herself in an abandoned building with the enigmatic Artist, who fancies himself a bit of a chef. He asks her about her name, which is also the name of a popular detergent in Indian. She tells him that her father owned a franchise in the detergent. 

   As they talk, Artist moves closer to her. Spooked, Nirma takes out mace. Unfortunately, it is facing the wrong way and she ends up spraying herself in the face. As she wears an icepack on her face, Artist asks about her car. 

     Faiyaaz Bhaai (Vijay Raaz) is a local gangster. He has a fighting goat called Bahubali. He loves the goat. When one of his henchmen feeds the goat chocolate, because he is illiterate and does not check the goat’s diet chart, he has the man strung up and lets the goat butt him. He loves his goat. 

    Nirma and Artist go to see Udankhatola (Arun Kushwah). He has a network of street kids who work for him and can help them find the car. Nirma goes to speak to her boss about her lack of upward movement in her work position. Her boss tells her that she is not sure whether she is right for the job. 

   Nirma goes to see Artist on the roof of his abandon building. He scares her by taking to the edge and asking if she would die if they jumped. She panics. He jumps, taking them both backwards. He explains there are always options. 

    They find the man, Murtuza (Badral Islam) who stole Nirma’s car. He tells them that he took it to a chop shop. They go to the place and Nirma finds what she thinks is her car in pieces. She is distraught. Artist finds out that Murtuza was lying. He took the car to Faiyaaz. 

    Faiyaaz meets a couple of filmmakers from Europe. They are making a documentary on animals fighting in different countries around the world. Faiyaaz sees a chance for his goat to become famous. Nirma gives notice at her workplace. Whilst riding the bus, she sees Faiyaaz with his goat, Bahubali, in front of her car. She goes back to the police. They tell her that she cannot prove it is her car. 

     Faiyaaz throws a party for Bahubali’s birthday. Artist is at the party cooking and hears that Faiyaaz wants to make the goat famous. He hatches a plan. He and Nirma buy a similar looking goat. Nirma poses as a makeup artist to get into Faiyaaz’s home and they exchange the goats. 

    Artist calls Faiyaaz and tells him he has the goat and wants the car in exchange. Faiyaaz finds out who Artist is and sends people after him. Nirma, realising how much the goat means to him, takes the goat back to him and explains the of her car and why they took the goat. Faiyaaz gives her back her car and retires the goat from fighting. Nirma finds confidence and impresses her boss. The end.

So that is the story, car, goat and all. Not your usual western fare, I’ll grant you, but it is an entertaining film nonetheless. If you like a quirky film and can appreciate watching a film a little bit out of left field, Chopsticks is worth one hundred minutes of your time.  

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