Thursday, 9 February, 2023
HomeFeaturesReel TakeUunchai is Barjatya's coming-of-age moment. He finally moved on from his 1990s...

Uunchai is Barjatya’s coming-of-age moment. He finally moved on from his 1990s Prem obsession

Danny Danzongpa has a relatively smaller role in the film. But ageing never looked that good on an Indian man before.

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Sooraj Barjatya’s latest release Uunchai is a tale of friendship, ageing, and figuring out life after 60. It is heartwarming and will make you laugh, cry, and mull over how quite literally life can be described as the background song from the 1972 movie Piya Ka Ghar, “Yeh jeevan hai, iss jeevan ka yehi hai rang roop (This is life, and these are its various forms and shades).”

Amit (Amitabh Bachchan), Om (Anupam Kher), Javed (Boman Irani), and Bhupen (Danny Denzongpa) are friends in their twilight years. Bhupen is the fittest, and on his birthday, he tells his friends that he wants to go on a trek with them to Everest Base Camp. The next morning, Bhupen has a cardiac arrest and passes away. Ridden with guilt and realising that life is uncertain, Amit convinces Om and Javed to fulfil Bhupen’s desire by going on the trek.

The trio, along with Javed’s wife Shabina (Neena Gupta) and a stranger Mala Trivedi (Sarika), embark on a road trip from Delhi to Kathmandu. They decide to start the trek without telling Shabina who would definitely not let Javed go. Contrary to what the trailer might suggest, it’s not the trek but the journey to taking the trip that is the highlight of the film. Parineeti Chopra has a small role as the tour leader Shradhha Gupta.


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Performances of the year

With a cast comprising some of the best Bollywood talents, and despite Big B’s towering presence, each character gets its moment in Uunchai.

The bonding among Amit, Om, Javed, and Bhupen is so genuine that they seem to be really close friends off screen. Neena Gupta and Sarika do justice to their roles as well. Anupam Kher’s almost obnoxious old-man role is balanced by the flirtatious Boman Irani. Big B balances it all out.

Danzongpa has a relatively smaller role, but ageing never looked that good on an Indian man before. Parineeti Chopra does her bit without any hiccups.

Growing up

Uunchai debunks the idea that things settle into place when you grow older. Sometimes, older doesn’t mean wiser. In fact, settling into a routine and holding on to nostalgia or refusal to grow any further might actually make old age more difficult.

Barjatya, known for ’90s iconic hits such as Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hai Koun (1994) and Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999), has knocked the ball out of the park with this film. This is Barjatya’s coming-of-age moment and well-made departure from his usual fare.

Uunchai challenges the ideas that were dominant in his earlier films — family as the epitome of relationships and elders being always right. When Shraddha tells Amit: “Writing about women and understanding them are two different things.” It seems as if Sooraj Barjatya has taken a long, hard look at his previous films, which have often been criticised for sexism and misogyny and even superficial representation of women. This feels like a very un-Barjatya film moment. While women in the film are still cast in supporting roles, they offer a variety of thoughts. Compared to earlier Rajshri films, Uunchai offers much-needed diversity through its characters.

There are multiple moments in the film during the trek when your heart leaps into your mouth for the three friends. For all those who think that the trek in Ranbir Kapoor’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) is the high point of friendship, they should definitely give Uunchai a watch.

Uunchai is a family entertainer and ends on a happy note. But without a doubt, it is also a long, hard look at living life.

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Sooraj Barjatya's latest release Uunchai is a tale of friendship, ageing, and figuring out life after 60. It is heartwarming and will make you laugh, cry, and mull over how quite literally life can be described as the background song from the 1972 movie...Uunchai is Barjatya's coming-of-age moment. He finally moved on from his 1990s Prem obsession