An unfunny and dramatically inert comedy-drama hamstrung by pitiful production and uninspired direction.
One of the first things you learn when you start covering Netflix every week is that the definition of certain words is entirely dependent on how the marketing team feel on the day. “Original” is a popular one that often makes no sense, as is “first”, both of which are descriptors that apparently apply to Sachin Yardi’s Chopsticks, despite the fact that over the last couple of years Netflix has become something of a nexus for Indian content — original or otherwise.
The big one was Sacred Games, although admittedly that was a series, but as for Rajma Chawal and Brij Mohan Amar Rahe, and I’m sure some more I’m forgetting, I have no idea how to classify those. I don’t suppose it matters, but I like things to make sense, dammit, which is probably why I wasn’t keen on Chopsticks, now that I think about it.
Let’s not blame the cast. Mithila Palkar is pleasantly naive and likable here as a young woman who buys a car and accidentally gives it away to a supposed parking attendant, and Abhay Deol is good too as an enigmatic conman whom she enlists to help her retrieve it. But even solid and interesting actors can’t do much when they’re shackled to thoroughly mediocre material, and that’s very much the case here.
With direction that can’t seem to navigate an apparently TV-level budget and production and a script that never even bothers to look for any real dramatic stakes, Chopsticks feels criminally overlong at just an hour and forty minutes. As ever, Mumbai is intended as a character of its own, its shady underworld and inept institutions making their presence felt, but I can’t imagine who this film is even aimed at, let alone who it might please. If the writing and plotting were stronger then it would be easier to excuse such slapdash execution, but the basic lack of effort and competence is contagious; you can’t even be bothered to care.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.