Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Archit Krishna, Aditi Vasudev
Director: Habib Faisal
“Do Dooni Chaar”, written and directed by Habib Faisal, is a charming slice-of-life comedy about a middle-class family in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar that aspires for a little more in life.
Santosh Duggal (played by Rishi Kapoor) is a school teacher whose measly salary barely covers the family\'s monthly expenses.
Santosh Duggal (played by Rishi Kapoor) is a school teacher whose measly salary barely covers the family’s monthly expenses. No wonder he has a second job teaching at a private coaching class. Mr Duggal works long hours so the family can enjoy a chicken dinner every now and then, and so his daughter doesn’t need to take a call-centre job during her college years. He couldn’t ask for a more supportive wife than Mrs Duggal (played by his real-life wife Neetu Singh) who understands they can’t get a new fridge because that little extra they saved this month, must go towards a wedding gift for a relative of Mr Duggal’s married sister.
The Duggal kids, however, are less understanding. The daughter wants an iPod at all costs; and the son who’s been secretly making money betting on cricket matches, doesn’t once think of helping out his parents with his spare cash. Both kids are embarrassed of their family’s modest lifestyle; the daughter even refuses to take a lift on her father’s trusty scooter. When Mr Duggal finally resolves to buy a car, there is genuine excitement at home. But he can’t seem to come up with the down payment. ((pause)) “Do Dooni Chaar” is heartfelt and well-meaning, and touches a chord because it’s so relatable.
The Duggals are inherently decent people, whom we watch as they wrestle with their conscience over accepting a bribe. There are scenes that stand out for the sheer honesty with which they’re written and performed, like the one in which Mr Duggal balks at the price of the stuffed parathas at a roadside dhaaba. The film’s first half, in particular, offers a handful of lump-in-your-throat moments that are mercifully never milked for your sympathy.
The opposite is true of the film’s second half, in which subtlety is replaced by overstating. The scene at a McDonalds outlet where an ex-student’s kind words help Mr Duggal make an important decision is poignant, no doubt, but teeters on melodrama. Also, much of the film is accompanied by a voice-over that is jarring, and a background score that leaves your head throbbing.
Despite its few shortcomings, however, “Do Dooni Chaar” is an enjoyable watch. The film benefits considerably from attention to detail, starting with the Duggal home which doesn’t appear to be a set, but looks lived in. Little touches, like Mr Duggal wearing keds with his suit at a family wedding, are what separates this film from the ordinary.
The heart of “Do Dooni Chaar” lies in its characters and in the performances of the actors who inhabit them. Both kids do a competent job, but it’s Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh who make this an unmissable experience for the sheer chemistry they continue to share, and for the entirely believable flesh-and-blood characters they are able to create out of the Duggals. For them alone, don’t miss this film. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for writer-director Habib Faisal’s simple-but-lovable film, “Do Dooni Chaar”. It’s not as witty as “Khosla Ka Ghosla”, but it’s more enjoyable than many films you’ve seen recently. Go watch it!
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Winner of viewers movie review
D R Gulati, New Delhi
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