Ajay Devgan, Kajol, Rishi Kapoor, Johnny LeverDirector:
The film is one of the costliest products of recent film historythe sets are conceived like a kid's fantasy with a glossy Planet M look and the liberal use of blue, yellow and red on the walls. The road to the kid's castle reminds one of the burada (sawdust) sprays utilised during Krishna Janmashtami in the tableaus. This is funky adolescence at its best, revved by hi-tech gadgetry and the actual use of cartoon animation between live shots.
Or so it seems. The story is reasonably interesting: billionaire Rishi Kapoor raises his pack of motherless kids in the fantasy alcazar who in turn make mincemeat of every damned teacher who comes their way. Shades of Sound of Music and Parichay? Yes silly. In time Kajol arrives as the good governess with the Red Cross hangover and wins over the kids. She also has a conman (Ajay Devgan) pursuing her in the mistaken belief that she is the billionaire's daughter. Enter the baddiesa vague bunch of uncles and cousins. They kill Kapoor, take over the castle and imprison the kids. Shades of Cinderella? Of course. In the meantime, Kajol has left because the conman broke her heart. He is in jail but returns as a fake Raju ChachaKapoor's long-lost brother who is now needed as a saviour.
The treatment, however, turns it into a candyfloss showa Mohabbatein or Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge in the Sound of Music/Parichay format. Emotions, sentiments, intrigue and counter-intrigue fly in the air. There is little substance, or plain bacchalog fun, to sustain the show. Ajay and Kajol repeat their acts, the latter looking fatigued in gestures and mannerisms perfected over the years. More importantly, the kids are all wrongyou expect them to be naughty and sweet, loveable brats with a heart. But they are mushy and yuppie here. They really don't deserve the kind of attention they get.
Instead, then, of being a quintessential year-end feelgood movie, Raju Chacha is more of an Ajay Devgan 'dream project', on the lines of Hindustan Ki Kasam. Devgan certainly has given some good performances in a number of tough and meaningful roles in the past. He in fact gave the common, brown man a presence when the fair, good-looking Khans were on the rampage. But times have changed. Pray tell us why do hardy heroes like Devgan suddenly start thinking big, soft and respectable once they acquire fame and money.