Delhi is the 'centre of attraction' these days with movie-makers setting the premise of their films in this city. Whether it was the thoroughly enjoyable BAND BAAJA BAARAAT or the much celebrated NO ONE KILLED JESSICA in the recent past, both depicted the flavors of the city, while the city also had a significant role to play in those movies. Now CHALO DILLI, directed by Shashant Shah, talks about a journey that originates in Mumbai, travels to Jaipur and concludes in Delhi.
The moment the synopsis of a film is revealed, a Google search helps you get to the original source of the film. It's true that CHALO DILLI borrows from DUE DATE , but one can't help but draw parallels with PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES  as well, which remains a benchmark for odd couples embarking on an error-prone adventure.
The basic plotline of CHALO DILLI may have been derived from these two films because DUE DATE and PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES also depicted a chalk-and-cheese pair that is traveling from point A to point B, but CHALO DILLI has been Indianized to make it different from the original films. In fact, the writer ensures that the incidents are desi and hence, different. From dhabas in the middle of the desert to camel cart journeys to the conversation with the Bengali couple in the train, it comes across as a desi film actually.
CHALO DILLI offers opportunity to tap the comic side of the two actors [Vinay Pathak is proficient when it comes to this genre] and even though there are a few flat moments, the film hits the right spot on several occasions. Also, this journey brings to fore the innumerous eccentricities of people in general. It's also about learning some truth about life, coming in contact with real people and real situations. That's precisely what makes the movie identifiable to the viewer.
On the flipside, the assorted characters that this couple encounters in this journey don't really contribute in making it an adventurous and thrilling ride. These characters, with the sole exception of perhaps the ticket checker and the Bengali couple they encounter in the train, are at best passable. The film gets dramatic towards the concuding moments, which seems appropriate from the writing point of view, but had it been told crisply, the impact would've been effectual.
CHALO DILLI is a road movie. Mihika [Lara Dutta], who works for a multinational financial institution, is heading back home from Mumbai to Delhi [to her husband who lives there] and misses her flight and encounters Manu [Vinay Pathak], a podgy and loud person who has a small shop at Karol Bagh, Delhi.
Manu is everything that Mihika isn't. Loud. Crass. Obnoxious. Rude. He is that guy who talks on his cell phone loudly and then sputters gutkaa juice much to the horror of those present in the vicinity.
As fate would have it, Mihika lands up in a situation where she and Manu are stuck together for the rest of the journey to Delhi. It's a bizarre journey with the oddest travelling couple ever. A bizarre journey through air, road and rail from Mumbai, via Jaipur to Delhi.
Director Shashant Shah, who tackled an emotional tale in his debut outing DASVIDANIYA, moves over to a more popular format - comedy - with CHALO DILLI. The humor isn't slapstick or the mindless type, yet real, projected through Vinay's character. Like the characters embark on an uneven ride in the story, the viewer too feels the same while watching this one. It hits the right notes [in the first hour mainly], but isn't as charming at several places in the second hour. In fact, post the train portions, the incidents aren't as amusing and exciting. The writing is inconsistent and so is the direction. However, it's the lead actors who salvage the show, especially Vinay.
The songs don't play an integral role in the film, yet 'Laila O Laila', an item song filmed on Yana Gupta, and 'Matargashtiya' are most noticeable. I wish the title track was played more often or used in the background at vital points to enhance the impact. Though a road movie, the cinematography doesn't make you go into raptures, which should've been the case frankly.
CHALO DILLI is speckled with sharp and witty lines delivered with accurate timing by the amazing Vinay Pathak, who never disappoints you. He's the soul of the enterprise. Lara gets the character right and though there are a few rough edges in her performance, there's no denying that she's extremely convincing as a lady who belongs to the upper crust and who absolutely loathes people like Vinay. In fact, Lara and Vinay both seize this opportunity with both hands and give it their best shot. Amongst the host of characters they encounter in the journey, Brijendra Kala, the ticket checker, leaves the maximum impact and so does the Bengali couple. Akshay Kumar is likable in a cameo.
On the whole, CHALO DILLI is exciting and amusing in parts. The film has some terrific moments, but the writing could've been more persuasive towards the post-interval portions. Yet, all said and done, there's something nice about it, despite the blemishes. Decent watch!