Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu, Paresh Rawal, Zohra Sehgal; Music: Illyaraja; Director:  R. Balakrishnan; Rating: ***
 
A thirtysomething unmarried Delhi woman visiting London falls for an Indian restaurant owner who’s older than her father. Romantic comedy-drama with Bollywood megastars Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu.

Chenni Kum - Amitabh and Tabu

Cheeni Kum translates from Hindi into English as ‘less sugar’. For those who consider all-singing, all-dancing, all-everything Bollywood movies the cinematic equivalent of a fondant fancy buffet, Cheeni Kum attempts to do exactly what it says it does; namely, to tone down the heady saccharine rush often served up by Indian cinema.

For starters, this is no straight musical, hence no cast-of-thousands dance routines. The music, though integral, is used in much the same way Hollywood wallpapers its montage sequences. Admittedly, to unaccustomed ears, the insanely catchy title theme sounds like it was composed on a 1980s Casio keyboard – you almost expect it to segue into ‘Axel F’ – but legendary composer Ilaiyaraaja and lyricists Sameer and Manoj Tapadia supplement the main story rather than overpower it. There’s more Western influence here than just the London setting.

Cheeni Kum - Paresh Rawal, Amitabh and Tabu

Certainly the May-to-December romance concept is a universal one. Amitabh Bachchan plays the fearsome 64-year-old owner of London’s finest Indian restaurant, a ‘Gordon Ramsahib’ figure without the swearing. Affronted that a customer, winsome tourist Nina (Tabu), sends back one of his signature dishes, flinty sparring eventually turns into mutual attraction, despite the age gap.

This is fine when wandering London’s many sights (and they almost all get a look in). It’s when they eventually return to Nina’s Delhi home and her widowed father (Rawal), some six years younger than her suitor, that the real problems begin.

Source: Channel 4

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