Chori Chori Chupke Chupke

Director: Abbas Mustan
Music: Anu Malik; Lyrics: Sameer
Year: 2001
Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

I love the sound of this film’s title – Chori Chori Chupke Chupke – it slips wonderfully off the tongue like a well-polished marble. I had envisioned myself using it someday on a crowded subway car with someone’s sharp umbrella stuck into my kidney. I just turn to them slowly and give them a disdainful “chori chori chupke chupke” that would leave them flustered and worried about what I had just said. Ya, chori chori chupke chukpe yourself buddy. Sadly though it is not an insult at all as far as I can figure out. The waitress at a local Indian eatery had a problem explaining it when I brought up the subject – something to do with hiding a secret though – and when Preity sweetly sings the words later – softly with a finger over her lips – there wasn’t much doubt that she was singing about having to hide her love away. So using this on the New York subway might not really work.

Once again Salman Khan strikes gold. A year earlier in Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega he had both Rani Mukerjee and Preity Zinta falling in love with him and here he again gets these two classy stunners vying for his affection. It must be those earnest wide-eyed beseeching looks that he specializes in that the women fall for. I don’t get it. These soul-searching grimaces seem so phony – nobody is that earnest unless they are talking to the IRS about back taxes – so that you know he is just thinking to himself “I wonder what she looks like naked”. A large part of this interpretation on my part admittedly rests on his reputation as a hit and run Lothario among Bollywood actresses and also that he generally seems totally unable to convey a true emotion in his acting. Still the more I see of him, the more palatable he is becoming and as long as he surrounds himself with the luster of the likes of Rani and Preity I will have to watch his films.
The story tackles what is apparently a fairly controversial subject in Indian society – surrogate motherhood – but it does so in such a squeaky clean manner that it loses much of the impact that perhaps the film was meant to engender. It also hits pretty high on the silly scale with plot machinations that stretch credibility to the breaking point. But it’s also rather fluffy fun as long as you gingerly wade around the most genial (and unrealistic) family since the Waltons. This extended family (that includes happy go lucky servants) is so cuddly that you almost long for the whacked out family in Miike’s Visitor Q. It would sure be interesting watching Farida Jalal (Bollywood’s most nurturing mother) perform lactation tricks as the mother does in Visitor Q.  The main attraction of the film rests primarily on the warm charms of the two actresses, a very enjoyable musical score, a little sightseeing (Switzerland of course!) and sparkling production values.
So Salman lives in a home with his wealthy – make that very wealthy - grandfather, Amrish Puri, mother and father (Dilip Tahil and Farida) and Johnny Lever as the comic man Friday. Amrish who can play stern and nasty like a Hindi Hitler in some films makes very nice here – all he wants is a great grandchild from Salman and even pretends to be dying at one point to push Salman towards marriage. It turns out though that all they have to do is arrange a meeting with Rani and its love at second sight. Now I would be all for arranged marriages if women like Rani were at the other end of it! So get on it folks. Actually they had met earlier at an engagement party and had one of those classic Bollywood dance offs – and sent sizzling looks at one another across the dance floor. Rani always seems to make first great appearances – here she emerges magically out of a parting crowd – the star struck camera watches her in bedazzlement – that first look at her is always a splash of water in the face as she hits you with that Mercedes smile. They are soon married – dancing among the Alps – and in no time Rani is beaming with upcoming motherhood. Just like the old man wanted.
Disaster strikes though and she not only loses the baby but is told that she can’t conceive again. What to do? Amrish wants a grandchild and you can’t tell the old guy no. Adoption perhaps? No – the baby has to look like Salman (as opposed to Rani!). Artificial insemination? No – too complicated and not private enough. Ah, Salman wisely comes up with the solution. I know – I’ll find a beautiful adorable prostitute – pay her to have sex and bear our child – and then have her live with us until the baby comes and then give her the heave-ho – and no one will ever know that the baby isn’t ours. Sneaky devil. Rani loves the idea and when he calls to tell her he has found the perfect candidate to sleep with (as Preity happily dances in the background on a bed of money) – Rani is so happy. Now where do you find women like this – she even conveniently disappears so that hubby and Preity can get it on in comfort.
Preity is dancing up a storm in a go-go bar in a red cowboy hat (emblazoned with “Sexy”) and high red boots when Salman spots her and knows that she is the one. He and Preity take a sudden mad turn into “Preity Woman” and shoplift a few scenes from the Julia Roberts film and have fun with them. The three of them go off to Switzerland to snuggle up in a cottage and wait for the little Salman to arrive and they become one very happy family. Preity leaves her high boots behind her and begins to see love in a different way – but those earnest eyes of Salman are beckoning. The film slowly pulls you in – not so much in a dramatic fashion – but more with its good spirits, playfulness and the chemistry of the actors. And though the plot on the surface is quite nonsensical, its easy to put this aside and just eat it up like a dripping slurpy.
All the songs are quite solid with a few being standouts. The first song – Number One Punjabi – is a celebratory upbeat affair - a Shaddi number in which the males and females take turns showing each other up on the dance floor – a courtship ritual of a kind. Rani simply steals the show with a lovely display of grace. Preity has her own number in Haire Aaja as she dances among a roomful of gawking men while gladly taking money from all the outthrust hands. From a musical perspective the title song is my favorite – lilting and lovely as is the suddenly gone elegant Preity in her fantasy number. The final song Mehndi Hai (of six songs) has a real emotional pop to it that will take you by surprise.

My rating for this film: 7.0

Song 1

Song 2

Song 3