Aap Ke Aa Jane Se Celebrates The Small Joys of Life in All Their Glory

Chadha’s character represents the typical Indian man who finds himself sandwiched between the era gone by and the era that now seems to flood his life
Aap Ke Aa Jane Se Celebrates The Small Joys of Life in All Their Glory

We all are familiar with the viral Youtube clip that took the Indian social media world by storm in 2018. Sanjeev Shrivastava from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, was seen grooving to the tunes of Govinda's evergreen song "Aap Ke Aa Jane Se". Within a few days, Shrivastava  shot to overnight fame, and earned the nickname of Dancing Uncle, having been praised significantly for his unrestrained and uninhibited demeanour. Inspired by him is the character of Rammo Babu, played by Manu Rishi Chadha, who is at the crux of Shiladitya Bora's Aap Ke Aa Jane Se (2019). Though Large Short Films never uses his real name or even credits him in the entirety of the 17 minute short film, the similarities are too obvious to be shrouded in darkness.

Manu Rishi Chadha is the cynosure of this heartwarming film that keeps you smiling from start to finish. He is a typical middle class man, who lives in what seems to be a rather simple and cramped house with his two kids and wife. The kids, part of the millennial generation, are almost always hooked to their phones, and feel embarrassed to be seen in close proximity to their father, who rides a simple scooter. Their relatives and friends' parents are proud owners of "four- wheelers" (as cars are generally addressed in small towns), and by not owning a bigger house or even a car, Rammo Babu has failed the family in some way. Of course, these disapproving remarks are never outrightly disrespectful; they still love him, yes, but his lack of wealth automatically seems to relegate him to a lower position.

Chadha's character represents the typical Indian man who finds himself sandwiched between the era gone by and the era that now seems to flood his life like an unpredictable wave, leaving him unprepared and unsettled. His co-worker at the saree shop, much younger than him, TikToks his way through life, while Rammo still struggles to understand the allure of social media. A salesman at a saree shop, he loses out on customers, because an e-commerce giant is selling the same thing at a substantially cheaper price. He is a traditional man – his news sources are the prime time TV channels and newspaper, not the content mill headquartered at WhatsApp University.

However, his life takes a significant turn when he finds himself soaked in fame due to his initially unwilling but eventually endearing dance performance at a wedding. This is perhaps the only moment in the entire film when he is fully himself – confident and not marred by any reservations. The eyes glued to him are simply applauding him and not expecting anything out of him, and in this moment of freedom, he is not suffocated under the weight of any responsibilities.  This is a liberating moment, reserved for him, and him alone.

Chadha has completely owned the character from the beginning to the end; be it his dance moves, or the genuine expression of confusion and exasperation plastered across his face when people around him talk of things he simply does not understand. Though I felt the short film could have done a better job by fleshing out his personal life a bit more, nonetheless, it does a good job at celebrating the joyousness of life, and the happiness that lies in the most mundane and trivial things, and how life is a major jigsaw puzzle made up of small happy pieces like these. It is also about accidentally finding yourself amidst the bleak rigmarole of life, where one can dance to the rhythm of a fast beat without getting lost in the technicalities of it all.

In the final frame, when Rammo Babu curiously asks his son about the number of views on his video, his son is not the only one who beams with pride; we do too. Such is the power of this taut and memorable narrative.

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