Uunchai

wogma rating: The keen must watch on screen; else TV/online (?)

quick review:

Froth-free, gloss-free, relatively dogma-free unlike any Sooraj Barjatya film. Disperses ‘gyaan’ like any of them though; even if it’s surprisingly progressive while doing so.

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Director: Sooraj Barjatya
Running time: 160 minutes
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Given that the film is about 65+-year-olds, it would seem unreal if, every once in a while, it didn’t go, “in our times…” or “kids these days…” So, when that happens, you roll your eyes at the exaggeration, but you know Uunchai is keeping things close to real. Pleasantly, though, the person passing the remark is given a reality check instead of going all Baghbaan on you.

And here we are—having sat through a sappy film, trying to overlook its flaws and admiring how refreshing and grounded it was.

I actually found myself holding my breath in disgust as Uunchai threatened to be at the brink of making innocent victims out of the older generation. And heaved a lovely sigh of relief as it pulls itself back. Similarly, no traditional values are imposed upon you as the only way to live. Instead, a rather philosophical approach makes you wonder if the writer is hinting at lessons he has learnt the hard way.

Lessons that he cannot seem to impart without making them sound so. The best he managed was to call them out as such. Unexpectedly, I found that self-awareness adorable.

It might sound like Uunchai is to be liked only for the things it kept itself from doing. Far from it, though, right? Arguably, the one-line concept itself is refreshing. A group of senior citizens set out on a adventure trip and end up finding themselves. Yes, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that it is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in old bottles. In fact, Uunchai even tips its hat with the ‘throw away your phone’ scene. By definition, then, it is a coming-of-age film, and what’s new about that, right?

There are touches and insight that give you pause. Enough of a pause to enjoy the otherwise overly-relaxed pace. I took to the slow pace and sensed love in the making of the film. The situations created and the sub-plots give an everyday charm to the film. Even if I wish some of the ‘telling not showing’ was given a little more thought.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the writing of the characters. The jumpy, traditional Om; the over-protective, jealous 60+-year-old Shabina; the obnoxious tour guide—are unidimensional and contrived. Sure, Shabina is a lovely summary of many real-life women from that generation who have literally forgotten themselves in service of their families. But that is her only redeeming feature, and it comes across too late in the film.

It doesn’t help that the performances were rather lacklustre. Other than Amitabh Bachchan, who wears the skin of the famous character he plays, the others are either over-doing their act like Anupam Kher or feeling out-of-place like Sarika. Neena Gupta and Boman Irani do well but aren’t required to do anything extraordinary. My response to their characters, Javed and Shabina, though, was telling. I was happy that this group of friends had Muslims. This effect is interesting because a few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at how characters were picked to demonstrate representation. And now I appreciate the gesture.

Pleasantly, though the person passing the remark is given a reality check instead of going all Baghbaan on you.

As I did some of the progressive takes too. Unexpected as they were, after a ridiculously cringe-inducing start, with inane dialogue, lusting old men, commonplace husband-wife exchange and tiresome banter between friends. But, it lets go of a lot of this immaturity as it progresses and introduces engaging obstacles and resolutions. The end-credit scenes has a cute Sooraj Barjatya touch. I enjoyed the portrayal of the Himalayas as a great leveller too. Indeed, they are.

25-30 years ago, if you’d have told me I would like a Sooraj Barjatya film, I wouldn’t call you crazy but would think it improbable. 16 years ago, or even 7 years ago, if you’d told me that I wouldn't constantly cringe through a film written and directed by him, I’d have wanted a dose of what you were having. And here we are—having sat through a sappy film, trying to overlook its flaws and admiring how refreshing and grounded it was. Recalibrating…

- meeta, a part of the audience

22 reviewers(?) - 13 yays 5 so-so 4 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...Becoming a part of new trend, it would get widely appreciated post its OTC releaseby the audience watching it at home. But if you haven't seen a film with the entire family in the theatres for long. then this should be the choice for one of your next family outings celebrating love and togetherness.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...The film is shot well by Manoj Kumar Khatoi. Whether it’s the car sequences or the trek across the hills, the camerawork provides an immersive experience. It’s a delight for the foodies, as it introduces us to yummy treats found on the way from Delhi to Kathmandu. It’s hard to believe that Director Sooraj Barjatya can make a film which doesn’t involve marriage. It’s brave of him to take senior actors and weave an ode to friendship around them. He tells a tale which unfolds at its own pace and will surely appeal to your heart.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...'Uunchai' not only breaks every stereotype of their own films — no longish songs, no wedding sequences etc. but doesn’t let the old-fashioned charm go away.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nitin Jain, Glamsham.com : ...Overall, Rajshri productions being one production house that tells the most emotional and family stories’ Uunchai is the best family outing this season.... full review

Thumbs up, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...What I particularly loved in the film is that the makers didn't rush into showing the group of friends on the final trek instead they took their sweet time to soak into their respective stories. As the trio along with Neena Gupta took the road trip to reach Kathmandu, we get to see India in its full glory from places like Agra, Kanpur to Lucknow and Gorakhpur and their cultural influences. Every scene celebrating this friendship and emotions puts a smile on your face and that makes Uunchai worth it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubham Kulkarni, koimoi : ...Uunchai is a movie made with a lot of heart and a whole lot of nostalgia involved. Watch it with no expectations and with the thought that it is a filmmaker who wants to talk about love and its purity.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...This is his most contemporary film. Also one that remains truest to its age-category — something that we classify in movies as merely fit for children or adults. This is a pic I’ll instantly recommend to my parents, foremost.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonal Dedhia, News18.com : ...Uunchai is uneven but heartfelt. Despite its flaws, the emotions connect. Getting to see some of the finest talents in Indian cinema together is enough to pull anyone to the theatre. And if you are game for a family drama with a message, Uunchai is a film for you. It has its heart in the right place, if not many other things.​... full review

Thumbs up, by Isha Sharma, NewsBytes : ...Uunchai is a reminder of holding on to life's delightful aspects, while also knowing when to let go. It emphasizes that when life refuses to slow down, why should we? Uunchai has its heart in the right place; while the climb is sometimes bogged down by hindrances and the film runs out of oxygen in places, the eventual view is worth it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Himesh Mankad, Pinkvilla : ...Uunchai is a well-made film, that serves as a rooted version of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara for senior citizens. The emotions are relatable and the journey is motivating. You can’t help but smile through the narrative and root for the characters to reach the Everest Base Camp. Some trimming is needed in the second half, but thankfully, the film has enough high points to hold attention and pack a punch. It’s a heart-warming watch.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anuj Kumar, The Hindu : ...However, for all the talk of accepting change, Barjatya himself remains stuck to the template of a three-hour-long film. It takes away some of the bite. So does the complete silence on the spiritual side of Javed throughout the journey. And despite signing up Amit Trivedi and Irshad Kamil, the most meaningful and hummable song that captures the crux of the film is Anand Bakshi’s Ye Jeevan Hai which was composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal for Rajshri Production’s Piya Ka Ghar in 1972. Well, it is not for nothing that they say ‘old is gold’.... full review

Thumbs up, by Taru B Masand, Times Now : ...Director Sooraj Barjatya has come out of his shell when it comes to family drama movies. In Uunchai, he explores different dynamics of relationships - be it friends, or family. The film is overall a heart-warming watch that will bring a smile to your face but will also leave you teary-eyed.... full review

Thumbs up, by Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India : ...Life is too short to say ‘phir kabhi’ and friends can be family. Uunchai scales new heights in terms of storytelling and concept, but never quite reaches the top. The film is not solely about older people, and even with its flaws there’s a certain relatability to the characters and the story. We wish the writing was stronger and did more justice to the fabulous cast.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Nonetheless, Uunchai has a sufficient heart to make it a special film. But it could have been much more special with more skilled writing.... full review

So-So, by Anindita Mukherjee, india today : ...All in all, Uunchai is all about feelings, love, emotions, compiled into one term, commonly called friendship. The film also draws a sensible comparison between old school friendships with the Gen Y. If you are looking for good content merged with some great acting, Uunchai is the film for you. Go with your friends and family but with a disclaimer to carry lots of tissues. Afterall, who has ever said bye to a Barjatya film without a heavy but sweet lingering in the heart?... full review

So-So, by Shalini Langer, indian express : ...A bit fewer of several stretches towards the second half where the film meanders into more than one man-made crises, and this Uunchai would have been mission truly accomplished.... full review

So-So, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...As a whole, Uunchai deserved to climb more heights, but limited air from the director kept it at a moderate altitude.... full review

So-So, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...When it comes to performances, every actor on screen, including Neena Gupta and Sarika, are masters of their craft. The four friends have an indelible chemistry on-screen which makes it easier to believe their motivations. Amitabh Bachchan, once again, proves that he can go from humorous to morose in the blink of an eye.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...It doesn’t help one bit that Amit Trivedi’s autopilots anthem music sounds as uninspired as Everest looks.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...A large part of the story is set in the Himalayas, which are captured translucently by cinematographer Manoj Kumar Khatoi. Is the eye-popping beauty of some of the frames the reason why the editor has been lenient with them? Uunchai needed a far sharper edit. Like Mount Everest, which can be spotted in the distance in several frames, the peak that the film seeks remains elusive.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...If one half of Uunchai documents the difficulties of hiking on bumpy terrain and high altitude guided by tour leader Parineeti Chopra (her real life commitment to fitness reflects in her no nonsense detailing of what to expect on a tough trekking turf), the other half is an meandering road trip to Kanpur, Agra, Lucknow of foodies feasting on kachoris and imartis. Guess it won't be a Sooraj R Barjatya film without one elaborate scene of breakfast on the table. Hunky-dory scenarios can get dreary even for a dove like Barjatya. To make the six-day trek eventful, he manufactures medical issues around Bachchan, gives Parineeti something to grumble about and tosses in (a wonderfully natural) Sarika's mystery woman harbouring a secret about their late friend. The upshot is needless delay and endless rona dhona.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Scroll.in : ...If the over-long film is bearable, it because the actors make their characters endearing. Bachchan, of course, is pitch perfect (and is given a wardrobe of enviable athleisure and winter wear). Like the man he plays on screen, he chivvies the other along till they reach the finishing line. Uunchai could have been entertaining if it wasn’t so sanctimonious. A film about endurance shouldn’t end up testing the audience.... full review

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1 readers - 1 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Raj : Would surley watch it on small screen

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Three old men decide to trek to the Everest Base Camp
  • General Look and Feel: Real-life but not the usual grey/brown treatment

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Uunchai - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
160 minutes
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Comments (2)

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Raj

Dear Meetu, Maturity and pause descends with age, both for the Director Suraj and us - the viewers who have seen all his movies. I like the sensitivity, humanness and in a wholesome way you look at the world fo cinema. You always give a rich and inert understanding of cinema. Thanks.

@Raj was an enjoyable couple of hours!

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