The film lives up to its title. 'Cheeni' is indeed 'kum' in this movie because just when you thought that the sugar coated proceedings would actually make you turn diabetic, director Balki suddenly decides to eliminate the dish with all the sugar and makes it taste so 'feeka' that you tend to relish only the first few helpings (read first half) than the dessert (the last 30 minutes).
In nutshell, this dish is to enjoyed more for it's main course than the dessert.
Now let's come to the bright side of the film. First half of the film rocks in a major way as there is not a moment when the smile goes away from your face. Whether it is Amitabh Bachchan's conversations with his team of cooks or the sweet moments with his regular visitor [Tabu], everything moves on like a cool breeze.
Each and ever sequence that has the two actors in a single frame creates fireworks as Tabu confidently takes on Big B in his own game. It is great to see Tabu showing her lighter side after being used to watching her in heavy-duty emotional roles. The two keep coming closer to each other with every passing meeting and never once does it seem that the writer had thrust romance on the two.
The realization of love between the two is also handled with utmost maturity making it clear that the romance here is between a man and a woman, not a boy and a girl. By the time the marriage question is popped, you are almost eager to enter the frame and make them say yes!
So far so good. This is the moment where one would have expected even further fireworks with the introduction of Tabu's dad [Paresh Rawal] who is expectedly not kicked about the entire idea. The initial sequences between Amitabh and Paresh bring on the chuckles but later repetitiveness sets in and the movie gets into a different track altogether i.e. drama. The 'satyagraha' angle further makes you go 'yawn' as one starts missing those sweet-n-sour moments which were the hallmark of the first half.
Thankfully two delightful supporting actors ensure that there are some redeeming moments. They are Bachchan's mother [Zohra Sehgal] and his best friend named Sexy [Swini Khara], a 6 year old girl, who are the two people closest to his heart and life. While Zohra Sehgal is simply irresistible every time she appears on a frame (watch out for her as she reprimands Bachchan for not visiting gym regularly), Swini redefines the meaning of best friends. It is unlike the so-sweet-so-cute kind of potrayel that Bollywood has traditionally been known for when it comes to kids. Extremely lovable and intelligent, Swini's character is a case of apt writing.
Both Bachchan and Tabu are superb throughout the film and demonstrate varying range of emotions as required. In one of the romantic sequences between the two, one can actually sense the Bachchan of SILSILA as his eyes do all the talking with his beloved. Not to be missed! Tabu plays an urban woman to perfection as she challenges her to-be-husband for her 'stamina' when it comes to doing better things in life at this age!
From both music and editing perspective, there is a clear distinction between the first and the second half. While music is extremely likeable as the songs play in the background throughout the first half of the narrative, in the second half it is hardly effective. Ditto for editing since the scenes continue to drag on and on in the second half. Ideally the film could have been cut short by at least 30 minutes.
Balki was justified in announcing to one and all that his CHEENI KUM wasn't NISHABD. While that is indeed the case, one wonders who was even thinking it to be one, considering the fact that the promos made the film's subject quite clear. What the promos didn't clarify was the fact that the film is not just a light hearted romantic