She’s an uppity investment banker who doesn’t suffer fools. He’s a boorish but well-meaning klutz who has a problem shutting up. Missed flights and car breakdowns leave Lara Dutta and Vinay Pathak’s characters with no option but to hit the road together from Jaipur to Delhi, hitching rides in trucks, camel-carts, and trains, and at one point in an overcrowded jeep owned by local goons.
Blatantly ripped off from John Hughes’ cult hit Planes, Trains and Automobiles, in which a pair of unlikely companions are forced to make a long road trip together, Chalo Dilli starts off smoothly but becomes a repetitive and predictable mess when its writers fail to fully exploit the comic possibilities of such a ripe scenario. For laughs the script relies on farting and belching jokes, and the standard discomfort that arises when you throw a snotty diva and a pan-chewing hick together.
There’s also an unnecessary subplot about an inter-gang rivalry that our protagonists get inadvertently involved in, and a lecture on corruption that is squeezed into the film, but makes no sense here.
Both Lara and Vinay’s characters are complete stereotypes: He’s the coarse bumpkin with a good heart, she’s the ‘independent’ woman too focused on her career to start a family. Mercifully, we’re spared a romantic track between the two, but Chalo Dilli does end with a twist that is both shamelessly manipulative and entirely predictable.
Save for a few moments of inspired lunacy provided by Vinay Pathak, this is one bumpy ride you don’t need to take. I’m going with two out of five for director Shashant Shah’s Chalo Dilli. After some 36 hours on Rajasthan’s dusty roads, Lara Dutta doesn’t have one hair out of place or even a slight lipstick smudge. This is that kind of movie!