In Chopsticks (Netflix Original, 2019), Mithila Palkar, who is shown to be picking peanuts from a bowl- with chopsticks; clearly reflects the kind of character she is. She’s a desi girl (a naïve Marathi mulgi) trying to fit in the modern world, or, as her boss advises in one of the scenes- to groom herself in order to reach a better level. Whether it’s a higher level of expertise or pay or responsibility, she is always bewildered before taking every next decision of her life. The trope is instantly relatable. And her character is from a different palette from the Hindi-language work she has done. She’s neither an independent (Little Things) nor a rebellious (Karwaan) millennial. She’s highly insecure and under-confident about her presence despite having enough talent to succeed.

With a potent and interesting character such as hers, it is unfortunate that the film could not materialize on it, and prove to be a bore-fest. ‘Bore’ would be an understatement for a film that is so uninterested in its characters that you feel bad for the talented actors being underutilized. Not just Mithila, whose adorable presence makes up for the most of it; it has Abhay Deol, who’s known for his niche projects, and Vijay Raaz who hardly ever disappoints. Considering Netflix being a part of this project from the very beginning, the film sure doesn’t look like a step in the right direction.

Mithila’s character from the film, Nirma (which comes with the obvious gags relating to the washing powder) is a small-town girl trying to make it in the big city. Her initial interactions were pretty accurate for a naïve, superstitious girl from a Maharashtrian family. Especially when her mother tells her about a Whatsapp group created right after the good news of getting a new car, it is spot-on! Middle-class families do that more than often. However, even when the film begins with someone like her, worth rooting for; it can’t handle the absurdity as the script progresses.

Nirma, who buys a new car probably to keep up with the status of her colleagues in order to fit-in, ends up with even more anxiety. While speaking with her mother who’s brimming with joy, she moves towards a temple as a part of ritual after having purchased a new-something. There, being tricked by one of the ‘tapori’-guys outside the temple,  she eventually realizes that her car has been stolen. As a result, she goes to the nearest police station to file a complaint. But, like several other movies, the police hardly provide any assistance. Later, she gets to know about the Artist (Abhay Deol) at the station, who can solve problems such as hers. It instinctively leads her to him.

Mithila Palkar wearing hat in Chopsticks Netflix

‘Artist’, is shown as a con-man in the disguise of a chef. Although the level of skills he is shown to posses make him look like a master chef, it doesn’t feel highly implausible. Eventually, this ‘artist’ sets out to help Nirma on her journey of getting her car back. While looking for the goon who might have stolen it, the film works on the chapter of Nirma’s self-discovery. And that leaves this con-artist as a savior for her, for some inexplicable reasons. He’s literally reduced to being a guide through her life for the film afterward.

Eventually, their journey leads them towards Vijay Raaz’s character. Here, he plays yet again a goon-gangster persona. But an actor with immense potential such as his, he still brings a charm to the outdated gags and preposterous twists. With a script that is forcibly trying to be ‘quirky’ for the sake of it, his amusing take on the under-written character is highly commendable.

Despite having so much talent in the acting department, the script hardly seems to have any direction or a sense of purpose. The narration feels all-over-the-place with most of its twists feeling more and more contrived to the point of giving a cringe. The jokes and the supposed humor are unbearable for the most part. Not the in-your-face humor related to her bad day, but many silly jokes trying so hard to make us laugh. Even the metaphorical one, where his explanation to wearing either black or white apparel is ‘Log aise hi to hote hain… Bas maante nahi…’ is preaching to be more self-aware than what it is. ‘Chopsticks’ is utterly confused about whether to be a coming-of-age drama, an absurdist comedy or a romance. As a result, it becomes a highly forgettable fare. The absurd twists needed either another draft or at least a better director.

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Chopsticks Links: Netflix, IMDb
Where to watch Chopsticks (2019)

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