Chameli

Directed by Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Kareena Kapoor, Rahul Bose
Released: 2003
My Rating: 8/10


There are some movies whose beauty just shines and blinds you at the first watch. It can change one's life, it can change your view of seeing things. Chameli just did the latter for me. It heartens your heart and makes you smile.

The story seems simple though. Aman Kapoor (Rahul Bose) is a heartbroken man after the death of his wife and now drowns in alcohol, smoking and parties - parties he is not even interested in. That is his own party he leaves one rainy night, until his car breaks down in an alley. Call it the chance, or a coincidence, his cell-phone battery is also out of order. He takes refuge from the heavy rain in this alleyway. There he meets Chameli - a prostitute. He is initially repulsed by her, but as the night and time fly, and that both need to wait for the rain to stop, they slowly acquaint. He learns to understand her, to respect her and there grows a beautifully developped relationship during one rainy night. 

Chameli is the story of an encounter of two people - unhappy with their life - who suddenly stop in their way and share their grief, who suddenly learn more about life and move on. Aman's and Chameli's worlds are different, but for one rainy night, they walk together. Aman goes above his prejudice and as he learns more about Chameli, treats her with respect and eventually even protects her. Chameli finds in Aman her ideal, she finally meets, one night, this kind man who respects her and does not want anything from her. I feel one-night-encounter movies are very difficult to make, they need to be interesting and also realistic. Chameli succeeds in both and even more.

A heartbroken man
A woman strengthened by her tragic life

One strong point about Chameli is that the director did not want to create in us sympathy for Chameli just because she is a prostitute who was forced to end up there. You end up liking her for what she is, she is dignified, strong and generous. As any other good human-being, she helps those she loves. Just like Aman, the viewer slowly knows her more and more and becomes attached to her. 
 Kareena Kapoor is wonderful as the fierce Chameli. I prefer her in this kind of movies, this is where her acting skills are really put to use and I feel this is in those movies she looks the most beautiful. She just looks beautifully natural. Rahul Bose, however, gives a rather subdued performance, and leaves the light mostly to Kareena, but it does not make his performance any less good. He still leaves a strong impact as the heartbroken man whose life will change with this one-rainy-night encounter and thanks to Chameli's life philosophy. He will learn to live, as Chameli will learn that there is good in some other men. What I felt was the film's flaw were how the flashbacks to Aman's life were handled. They most of the time broke the space of the film which is pity but that is a minor flaw compared to all the qualities of this movie.


The soundtrack is really lovely, one special mention goes to "Bhaage Re Mann" which at the first hearing has become one of my absolute favourite rainy song. There is hope and joy written all over it, and the picturisation is, I feel, so delightfully simple and moreover, Kareena's happiness is overwhelming.

Chameli is about the birth of a beautiful relationship between two people, in a place where it does not ususally happen. One could reproach to this movie to be too idealistic in the end, and to drag at times, but its characters and their depth, this mature portrayal of a relationship based on trust and the impressive performances make it worth it. It teaches you, as a popular French proverb says, that 'after the rain comes the beautiful weather'.

The sun always appear in the end... even after a rainy night.
 
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