24th May 2007 – Cheeni Kum

There are 12 reviews between this one and Salaam-e-Ishq that I have not had the time to post here. Will do it sometime soon.

PresentsCheeni Kum OR A Little Less Chinese OR Sugah Daddy

In this Year of the Chinese Pig, er, Chinese Pig Ear, er, Year of the Pig according to the Chinese calendar, this a truly absurd way to start an article.
Let me start differently and come back to delicious pig ears, Chinese style, later. A little information about China first.
China is one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, which is very unlike the Australian’s who are rarely civilized, especially on the cricket field. China also has the world’s longest continuously used written language system, illustrated by the fact that it takes huge reams of paper and 7 buckets of paint to write simple stuff like ‘Mao was a great leader’. Consequently, it turns out that no one writes that sentence much anymore and that China has the least amount of graffiti in restrooms, school desks and train loos. (For instance, no one goes through the trouble of changing a ‘To let’ board to read ‘Toilet’. Its just too much work)
Ancient China developed four great inventions, none of which helped their civilization for lack of complimenting inventions, paper (no writing instruments), the compass (no travel industry, no boats), gunpowder (no guns, no conquests either because the Great Wall was in the way) and printing (no newspaper companies, Johannes Gutenberg was in Germany)

However, this did not get them down much and they have merrily multiplied ever since, revelling in this pleasurable physical arithmetic, as a result of which there are more Chinese than any other form of human being in the world today. English and many other languages use various forms of the name “China” and the prefix “Sino-” or “Sin-“. These forms are thought to be derived from the continuous multiplication of the Chinese, which was deemed sinful by religious missionaries in the Middle Ages (in an encouraging trend in recent years, middle aged people are often tired of the Missionary position, regardless of religion).
As a close competitor in the multiplication race, India shares a unique relationship with China.

This weeks’ OPM takes a look at ‘Cheeni Kum’ that personifies the relationship India doesn’t share with China, suggesting new ways to tackle problems and evolve together.
In this auspicious year to produce babies in China, with Pig ear sales picking up and condom sales bottoming out, Director Balki wisely discards his advertising career to foray into the world of films, taking some courageous stands while he is at it.

Disclaimer: Homosexual and Chinese jokes ahead. I am absolutely certain that the gay community isn’t better or worse than the rest of us, which is precisely why I will take the liberty of cracking jokes at their expense just like I take pot shots at Hair dressers, Punjabis, Malayalees, Germans, Hindus, Himesh Reshamiya, Christians, Navjot Sidhu, Politicians, Adnan Sami, myself and everyone else. We are all pretty similar, except Himesh and the Politicians, perhaps.

Our story starts with a low angle shot of Beijing, which we realize is Beijing through the eyes of our central character. The central character played by Amitabh Bachchan, is Budha Dev, a short pony-tailed man who is up to his neck with his job as the Head Chef at the Beijing Hilton. A bold career decision for Amitabh, considering that this is the first time he is playing a little man on screen. (A role that, in cruel irony, befittingly matches his public image post the UP elections and terribly embarrassing Aish-Shek rituals: that of a little man)

Anyway, Amitabh is a chef who is sick of Chinese restaurants all over Beijing. Ignoring the fact that he is in China, he becomes xenophobic, in a foreign land about the native population. He begins to hate all things Chinese and proceeds to hack away at bonsai’s and noodles whenever he encounters them. At night he kidnaps Pekinese pet dogs named Ping and Pong, Yin and Yang and Mao and Tao selling them to an upmarket Dog Soup company on Tiananmen Square.
He then opens his own restaurant, which serves all cuisines except Chinese. He positions himself as a master chef by publishing a series of cookbooks in pictures. For the average Chinese, a picture cookbook is a huge improvement over reading 90036 alphabets to learn to make an omelette. He becomes a great rage in Beijing and at the height of this short man’s success Tabu I Ching, a beautiful Chinese woman played by Tabu (the actress, not the board game), walks into his restaurant. The chef falls instantly for this dish, knocking over several bowls of exotic pasta in the process.
As we admire Balki’s courage in mixing Xenophobia and Love, he calculates another wholesome number into the equation, by introducing Paresh Rawal as Tabu’s gay father. Paresh falls head over heels in love with Amitabh’s character, knocking over several bowls of the same pasta again (shockingly, this twice-floored pasta is cooked and served to diners at the restaurant)

Soon our main characters visit a crowded pub, where Amitabh feels very wet around the ear. After ignoring it for the first few minutes, he discovers that it isn’t his inexperience but his girlfriend’s pater’s saliva. He shudders and dives into a temporary opening in the crowd, leaving father and daughter to confront each other.
To Balki’s credit his characters, after some contemplation, come to the conclusion that men with homosexual preferences have to take their chances whenever they can. Since there are so few of them out there who are not hiding in little mental closets and shoe cabinets, the gay man/woman just has to hit on everybody he can, to maximise his chances of finding a mate. At bus stops, in theatres, at the circus, at church, in the temples, at art shows, at photo studios and massage parlours, at schools and in offices, at dance bars and stereo shops…everywhere. It is unfortunate. Circumstance does not afford them too many choices.
After all, buggers can’t be choosers.

Thus ends this brilliant movie that one hopes will improve Indo-China relations, inspire homosexuals to free up closet space, reduce population explosion and improve adoption rates by encouraging same sex marriages, help clothing brands sell more Chinos, help this columnist meet attractive Chinese women and enable Balki to make his next film based on the degradation of porn, starring the Big and the Extra Small (no pun intended) B’s.

* Objects in the Preview Mirror may appear sillier than they are.
Disclaimer: Characters in the above story are not based on any characters in the film. Any resemblance or humour is pure luck.
**OPM appears in the Thursday edition of Bangalore BIAS and previews a Friday release


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