But then Mr Bachchan and Tabu are that kind of actors. They imbue every encounter on the rain-slickened streets of London into an occasion to celebrate the life force.
Tabu is a natural-born scene-stealer. She more than meets her match in her co-star .Is there no end to the surprises Mr Bachchan springs on us periodically? To imagine Cheeni Kum without Bachchan is to imagine that pivotal Hyderabadi biryani that brings the couple together, without the saffron. Or any other flavour for that matter.
This intimate, amusing warm and utterly beguiling intimate character-study of love and its sudden appearance in lives that have accepted its non-presence derives considerable energy from the supporting cast.
Not Paresh Rawail who as Mr Bachchan's outraged father-in-law -to-be is surprisingly bland, but Zohra Sehgal as Mr Bachchan's spunky mother and more specially, little Swini Khara as Mr Bachchan's next-door neighbour who in her terminal illness provides the narrative with the gift of life....grab the lapels of your heart and sweep you into a world of love's most satirical fears and foibles.
There are moments in this quirky captivating and curvaceous cinema that touch the highest notes of drama without getting hysterical.
What makes Cheeni Kum so unique? Is it the amazingly laidback chemistry between the lead pair? Is it the combination of satire and romance, mixed stirred and served up in a tall frothy glass? It is Balki's word-spin that takes the romance into areas of absolutely seductive brightness? Is it the way London (mellow, supple, and sensuous) and Delhi (heated grimy and spiced up) have been captured by Sreeram's calmly articulate cinematography? Or is it Ilayaraja's talcum-fresh melodies trickling emotions in austere motions?
What makes Cheeni Kum so special in spite of a far-from-flawless second-half? Could it be just the magic between Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu who seem to look into each other's eyes and souls with such warmth and affection you forget their age difference completely.
Nah! It's more. Cheeni Kum is a film where the words so match the thoughts and feelings of the characters that you forget someone else wrote the dialogues for the unlikely lovers.
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