We have seen the likes of Shah Rukh Khan’s Raj Mathur before, especially in Aziz Mirza’s films about underdogs who nurture big dreams but are confronted by even bigger hurdles. This time around, the director places his common man hero in an idealised love story that threatens to end in disaster when high-pitched marital discord intervenes.
It doesn’t. Unfortunately, the film does. By the time it reaches its business end, Chalte Chalte sinks into a quagmire of predictable situations, melodramatic contrivances and confrontation scenes that veer out of control.
It begins promisingly enough though. Middle class boy Raj (Shahrukh Khan) owns a transport company. He meets Greece-born fashion designer Priya (Rani Mukherjee) literally by accident, falls for her charms and pursues her all the way to Athens to thwart her plans to marry her childhood sweetheart Sameer (Jas Arora).
Fate plays its hand and the flight is diverted to the picturesque island of Mykonos. That is all Raj needs to make his greatest life-defining move. The forced stopover gives our hero the opportunity to work his magic on the vulnerable lady.
The script sets a reasonable pace as Shahrukh woos Rani – the two stars rustle up a nice groovy rhythm – with a mix of earnestness and tomfoolery.The first half of Chalte Chalte throws up a few comic moments that could go down well with the masses. In a scene that is right up Shahrukh’s alley, the lovers, separated by a fair distance and a lot of noisy traffic, communicate through a co-operative cop. It adds up to some harmless drollery if you can accept a 40-year-old actor as a romantic hero truly, madly, deeply in love with the concept of love.
But the love story is only a pretext for the unfolding of a mawkish tale of marital blues that rides on a routine construct of personality clashes, petty misunderstandings, bouts of jealousy, severe heartburns and pangs of guilt.
Raj is a self-made man, a trifle brash and unschooled. Priya is a picture of poise and sophistication. He thrives on spontaneity; she craves for emotional sustenance. The result: They bicker like cats, patch up, fight again, make up, fly off the handle yet again… The rigmarole drags on for too long to be effective.
Be that as it may, Chalte Chalte sustains an acceptable level of competence in most crucial departments. The cinematography by Ashok Mehta has a uniformly translucent quality, the music by Jatin-Lalit and Aadesh Shrivastava and the picturisation of songs are well above average, the characters are by and large grounded in reality and Shahrukh and Rani deliver well-honed performances.Shahrukh revels in scenes that draw upon his high energy levels, while Rani makes the most of the film’s quieter moments, when little gestures all that are needed. Sadly, Chalte Chalte is a film that doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts.