There’s a sweetness all the way from Delhi to Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and the Everest Base Camp (EBC).
It’s the honey-dipped family values you associate with director Sooraj Barjatya and his cinema, friendship providing the icing on many layers of relationships.
They’re friends for all seasons and for many reasons. Ageing bachelor Bhupen (Danny Denzongpa), bestselling motivational author Amit Shrivastava (Amitabh Bachchan), Om (Anupam Kher) who clings to a dusty old bookstore with tomes nobody wants to buy, and Javed (Boman Irani) whose wife Shabina (Neena Gupta) loves him enough to nag him.
Shabina badgers, why must he sell lingerie and women’s wear? Om’s son wonders, why can’t we sell and move into a spiffy mall? Amit’s fan questions, why’s your wife a secret? And Bhupen has a fatal cardiac arrest before he can share his fascination for Mount Everest with his buddies.
Health, personal issues and reality checks from family members accompany Amit, Om and Javed as they pay tribute to Bhupen with a trip impossible to the EBC. But bash on regardless, they do, Mala Trivedi (Sarika) with her own Bhupen connection, joining the indefatigable trio.
As always, Sooraj sprinkles pleasant humour all over his scenes like the oldies gazing at the visuals by a poolside or Amit shrinking after brushing against one of Javed’s garments on display. Amit light-heartedly tricks Om and Javed into making the trip and there are tiny jibes at the author’s penchant for distributing gyaan. The sentiments of friendship, family ties and fighting odds to scatter Bhupen’s ashes in his beloved mountains work to bring a tear and to exhilarate.
It’s a nostalgic pleasure to watch Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani and Danny Denzongpa bond and cheer like every day is Friendship Day.
However, this is a road trip with potholes.
A question to begin with. Do traditional Hindus bring an urn of ashes to a prayer meeting or is there a belief that ashes are never brought home?
Do parents with bag, baggage and friends in tow, drop in unannounced on married daughters who live in a different city, and expect to be welcomed and hosted as house guests? Married children can’t have plans of their own?
How many tours to the EBC do you know where creaky, ageing citizens are allowed without medical clearance or an acclimatisation drill? How many clueless guides like Shraddha Gupta (Parineeti Chopra) lead tours to the EBC? A guide who’s fought her parents because she loves her job but knows zilch about the seniors in her group, wears an exasperated scowl over their pace and problems, stomps all over them, doesn’t lend a helping hand in the trickiest laps, doesn’t know anything about the weather, keeps no count of the tourists until it’s a tad too late and has no idea how to lead a motley group?
Let’s not forget that Om has a problem with flying which is why the oldies do a long and arduous road trip instead of flying to Nepal. But voila, they return from the base in a chopper, Om Shanti Om.
There is a plethora of sentiments that Sooraj brings in but none of them is a unique situation, most emotional upheavals the kind that Hindi cinema has dealt with over five decades and more. After Shraddha Gupta breaks into a smile, creases in all relationships get ironed out like a well-oiled lock and key with the levers falling pat into place.
If only life was as simple as Sooraj Barjatya’s easy-pie solutions.
Watch the trailer of Uunchai: