Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some language and incidental smoking
Do Dooni Chaar was a decent film with good production values, but couldn't decide if it was a comedy or a drama, and some story elements were strange.
Santosh Duggal is a teacher who lives in a small apartment with his wife Kusum and his two kids, Payal and Deepu. They have just received a tax refund and are happily planning how to spend it, when Santosh's sister tells them that her husband's younger sister is getting married, and Santosh and his family must attend. But unlike past visits, they have to attend in a car, because showing up 4 astride on Santosh's scooter would be an embarrassment she could never live down. Santosh can't afford a car on his salary and so most borrow one from the neighbor in a slightly underhanded way. After a series of mishaps, Santosh is embarrassed himself for not having a car and decides once and for all to get one. But he can't afford it and needs a way to come up with the money, which leads to a situation where his integrity and good name could go down the toilet. Is having a car worth it?
Do Dooni Chaar is a Disney production in India, so the production values on the film were 100 times better than your standard Bollywood film. The movie is also a lot shorter (coming in at under two hours) and while it has some musical interludes, there are no big production numbers. The problem is, the story felt a little like weak tea - you can taste the tea but you wish for something stronger. Santosh is a compelling character. He's a father who is only trying to do right by his family. But he's also stubborn. His wife is more than willing to work, but Santosh is against it. His daughter is spoiled and does nothing but complain about her father (as teenagers will do) and Santosh never gets angry with her, he simply tries to get her what she wants. His son Deepu is seemingly OK with everything, only we find out that he's secretly gambling on the side and has a small fortune stashed in a fish tank. Santosh also juggles two jobs and he loves what he does, but getting through to his students is getting harder and harder. He is desperate to get the family the car he feels they deserve, but finding the money is nearly impossible.
I liked Santosh but the problem is he was very wishy-washy. There was never happiness or sadness - he was just there. Sometimes there was confusion and embarrassment, but that was it. I felt like his character should have been more well rounded. And maybe their living situations a bit more drastic. They had everything they needed including TV, cable, cell phones and more. They didn't act like a family that was struggling - except they didn't have a car. Now, maybe in that world having a car is such a big deal it's like having food on your table. But from my perspective, it didn't seem like that big a deal. Even in his interaction with his wife when she said she could have had a job back when they first met. Why doesn't she have one now? Santosh never strenuously objects to it, it just seems like an unspoken agreement that she won't have one, even though both their kids are in school and out of the house all day. And he doesn't yell at his kids, nor does he seem that close to them. They're just sort of there.
The mom character was great. She wasn't the kind of wife who stood down from her husband, she stood up to him and said the things that needed to be said. She seemed very happy and loving. The daughter was a royal pain in the ass. She did nothing but bitch and moan the entire movie until the very end. While that might make perfect sense in the real world - a teenager disagreeing with everything their parents say - in the movie it makes for a character you don't care anything about. For 95% of the movie I kept wishing she would go away. The son was a slightly better character in that he was doing something illegal on the side, and living a life of luxury with his girlfriend. Except the whole gambling thing didn't go anywhere. We see one instance where he gambles and wins. We see him stash a lot of money in the fish tank, but he never seems to spend it on anything other than food with his girlfriend. So what was the point of that plot line? He willingly turns himself in to his parents once the bookie he was working with got busted. And the cops never come for him so what was he so scared of? They use it for a teaching moment when the father decides that they should give all the money away to people more needy, and it gives them a nice father/son bonding moment, but that could have been accomplished in many other ways. Why make him a gambler if you're not going to do anything with it?
All that being said, the movie as a whole was still entertaining. While it could never settle on being a comedy or a drama and tiptoed that line, there was enough humor and melodrama that I was kept interested throughout. Visually it was one of the best Bollywood productions I've ever watched. Crisp, clean pictures with great sound. And while I didn't care for any of the songs, I liked that they were used during sequences that were showing passing of time, rather than being thrown in to slow down the story. The story was a good one, I just wish it had been a little tighter and stronger, but this is a very good start in the Disney world of Bollywood.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Do Dooni Chaar. There were some things I'd like to see changed, but all in all if you're a Bollywood fan - or even a fan of movies in general - this is something worth seeing.