Life can turn out to be a lousy deal. So can moneylenders. So fruitcakes like Jeetu (Shahid Kapoor) come up with cocky ways of dealing with disaster - create a disaster of your own. Dive, die and claim insurance. But even here, treacherous fate meddles, and steers the Jeetu types to safety.
A whole gang of folks in Bollywood seem to be stung by monetary misery. Be it the rambunctious rogues in Phir Hera Pheri or poor souls Jeetu and Gundya (Paresh Rawal) in Chup Chup Ke, money trouble seems to be the universal gripe. In order to rescue his father (Anupam Kher) from debt, Jeetu attempts suicide, the only means to insurance money. Only, it is not Yamraj who awaits Jeetu, but fisherman Gundya's flunky, Bandya (Rajpal Yadav).
Jeetu conveniently role-plays a deaf-and-dumb lad, and becomes reluctant Gundya's charge. Bengali babu Gundya has problems of his own. His only boat is rudely taken from him because of a hefty loan he owes the merciless Gujarati entrepreneur Chauhan (Om Puri). The fisherman palms off his helper Bandya and his burden Jeetu to Chauhan, as guarantee for the unpaid loan.
Meanwhile, back home, Jeetu's parents are in the doldrums. His childhood love Pooja (Sushma Reddy) refuses to marry another and roams a widow.
Coming back to the royal Gujarati mansion, Jeetu and Bandya try to settle into their new lives. The attempt is hilarious as Bandya's comic antics to fit in as domestic help will leave you in splits.
Jeetu's self-imposed silence is broken by Chauhan's mute niece Shruti (Kareena Kapoor) and her sister Meenakshi (Neha Dhupia). They catch him singing a ditty. Very soon something like love develops between Shruti and Jeetu. Something like love, because this strand of the plot does not mature convincingly. Enter presiding head of the Gujarati family, big brother Mangal (Sunil Shetty). Who dare love his sister Shruti?
The formidable big bro soon realizes that the deaf-mute Jeetu doesn't have any mercenary ambitions regarding Shruti. Jeetu comes out with the whole truth (from self-annihilation to self-mortification), and after a few blows, tears and forgiveness, the lovers are set.
The story travels a circuitous path. Jeetu's parents discover he's hale and hearty, and want him back. Jeetu has committed himself to Shruti, and her family who dispelled his financial woes. Does the redeemed son return home or does he start afresh?
The first bit of Chup Chup Ke is a witty hodgepodge of slapstick and horseplay. Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav manage the funny show. Episodes such as the pehalwan kushti in the akhara (with tiny toon Rajpal scampering about), the mistranslations in Gujarati, and the phony dramatics performed by Paresh Rawal and Shahid are pieces of genuine entertainment. The dialogue is spontaneous and unaffected.
The second half of the movie transforms into a drama. There is a sensitive portrayal of the actual misfortunes of people who take desperate measures to survive. A young boy attempts suicide, while an old fisherman sells his loyal flunky to the rich moneylender.
But occasionally the drama dwindles to melodrama. The climax seems hurried, with all the loose ends tied into a clumsy knot. It simply doesn't ring true. The songs are one too many. Dil Vich Lagya Ve and Ghoomar are fun beats.
Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav are their quirky selves, but their acts are getting kind of repetitive (God save me from all Paresh-Rajpal loyalists). Shahid Kapur is good in certain snippets. Kareena could have engaged better the mute-girl act, but she is emotive nonetheless. Om Puri and Anupam Kher are seasoned performers.
The film is worth a watch if you are a Paresh Rawal or Rajpal Yadav fan. Is there something like half-a-movie ticket? That way you can catch only the first bit (the worthy bit) of Chup Chup Ke. Then again, you can always just walk out.