Chandni Chowk to China (2009)

For me, buying this movie was a bit like buying a German-Spanish dictionary, in that it made me a consumer of the product of two cultures, neither of them mine.

Lest you think that’s just an analogy, I hereby present my German-Spanish dictionary.

Chandni Chowk to China is a Hindi musical martial arts comedy.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

The main character is a superstitious Indian guy named Sidhu who works as a lowly vegetable cutter in a place called Chandni Chowk in Delhi. He has a lot of self-pity but not a lot of motivation to improve his station in life. (One day while cutting potatoes, he finds one that looks like the elephant-headed god Ganesha, and uses the coincidence as an excuse to neglect his duties, which earns him a kick in the pants from his foster father.)

His life changes when two Chinese guys somehow decide he’s a Chinese hero reincarnated and a Chinese fortune-teller friend convinces him to go to China. It’s wacky but kinda fun.

See below for more about the movie, including SPOILERS.

In the course of his adventures, Sidhu meets a pair of separated twin girls, one Indian and one Chinese (!). The Indian twin does advertisements for a gadget company. Sidhu runs into her in the line for a Chinese visa; he has a token and wants to go to the town that thinks he’s a hero; she does not have a token and wants to go visit the factory of the company she works for. She manages to get the visa token from Sidhu in a scene which is so hilarious that by itself it justifies watching the movie (which is not, I admit, amazing). To get the token, she puts LED ankle cuffs on Sidhu and activates them, causing him to dance involuntarily in a variety of styles, until he is arrested by security because they think the device is a bomb.

Sidhu eventually makes it to China, where he receives a hero’s welcome, not realizing that the townspeople expect him to kill the smuggler who has the town in a stranglehold. Sidhu and his new friends accidentally defeat an entire ninja-like assassin force by accident while celebrating his arrival.

The bad guy has a hat which he throws to cut people’s necks from a distance, which returns to him like a boomerang. He kills Sidhu’s foster father, who comes all the way to China to try to support and/or talk sense into Sidhu. Sidhu is victorious in the end, after being trained in kung fu by the twins’ father.

Sidhu wins by fighting the bad guy adopting a vegetable-chopping fighting style. Unlike kung fu, vegetable-chopping is nothing new to him; he’s been doing those moves all his life. It’s just like Bruce Lee says:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

He activates his vegetable-chopping style by imagining the bad guy as a potato. When he imagines the bad guy as a potato, the bad guy appears on screen as a CGI potato.

Like I said, wacky fun.