Filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya, who is known for helming family dramas like Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun..!, Hum Saath Saath Hain, and Vivah, has finally made his comeback after seven years with Uunchai. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, and Danny Denzongpa in the lead roles, Uunchai comes as a breath of fresh air, which takes us through the journey of three friends in their 60s, on a mission to scale Mount Everest.
Here's what makes Uunchai different from Barjatya's previous films:
The Atmospheric Change
Unlike Barjatya's most films, which are confined to the four walls of a studio, Uunchai transports us into the wilderness of the Himalayas. In the film, three friends — writer Amit Shrivastav (Amitabh Bachchan), garment seller Javed Siddiqui (Boman Irani), and book shop owner Om Sharma (Anupam Kher) embark on a difficult journey up to the mountain, to fulfill their deceased mate Bhupen's (Danny Denzongpa) last wish.
Instead of closeting the emotions of his elderly protagonists, who would otherwise be expected to sit at home and mourn the loss of their friend, Barjatya comes forward with a fresh perspective. He creates an atmospheric shift in the film, by making them cross rivers and climb mountains, to perform Bhupen's last rites. In the process, each of these characters undergoes a journey of their own. This helps in elevating the moods of the audience as well.
There's No Melodrama — Just Subtlety
Uunchai is not a melodramatic film. Rather, it deals with the differences in interpersonal relationships with more subtlety. After Bhupen's death, his friends reflect upon their mistakes and learn a few bitter truths, but eventually face their grief and come out stronger. Unlike Barjatya's other films, where death is always followed by a melodramatic mourning sequence.
In another scene, where Boman and Neena's children don't invite them to a party, Amitabh encourages them not to be upset with their kids. Instead, he asks them to introspect in a situation that could've easily turned into a tirade in any family-drama. He reminds them that they didn't take their children to all of the parties they went to when they were younger, either. Uunchai deals with emotions more rationally, in a light-hearted manner.
The Heroes in Their 60s...
This is Barjatya's first-ever film which features heroes in their 60s. Unlike Hum Saath Saath Hain and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, where veteran actors only managed to secure supporting roles, Uunchai reminds us that age is just a number and an individual's advancing years don't confine their desires.
The film also sheds light on the hardships of the aged, without finding any faults in the present generation. At the same time, it talks about the metaphorical Everests that one should be prepared to climb in their lives at some point.
A heart-warming scene, where Sarika Thakur, Amitabh, Boman, and Anupam beat the young climbers in the trek with their traditional ek kadam, ek saans (one step, one breathe) tactic, despite their physical inabilities, gives a confidence-boost to the film's viewers. It shows that Barjatya's Uunchai has something for everyone.
Music Isn't the Same
In contrast to Barjatya's Hum Apke Hain Kaun..! and Maine Pyar Kiya, which gave a lot of importance to its music, Uunchai's primary focus lies in conveying the journey of its protagonists. Unlike his previous films where a song featured after every second scene, Amit Trivedi's music isn't forced into the screenplay here.
The song that stands out is Bhupen's favourite 'Yeh Jeewan Hai' from the 1972 classic Piya Ka Ghar. In the evergreen voice of Kishore Kumar, the song is played on several occasions. And even with its limited screen time, it manages to resonate with the film's characters the most and fits perfectly on their journeys.
It Deals With Multiple Stories
Uunchai doesn't revolve around the journey of just one or two prominent characters. Instead, the film tries to provide a successful closure to even the smallest roles in the film that are written with a lot of intricacy and relatable emotions.
From Amitabh's broken marriage with Nafisa Ali, Sarika's complicated relationship with Bhupen, Parineeti's issues with her parents, to Boman and Neena's overwhelming love for each other, the film provides equal importance to each of its character's journey.
In contrast to Barjatya's previous family dramas, Uunchai focuses more on the values of friendship, making it superior than other familial relationships.