If you want to watch Auto No 9696, apart from a few performances, the film or the story has nothing much to offer.
The movie is a series of filmi cliches that we have been watching and re-watching for god-knows how many years. As all of us are big on listicles nowadays, so let's go through the cliches one by one:
Cliche number one: Auto driver Kelo wants to be a hero and regularly dreams of romancing his favourite heroine. While driving his auto, he interacts with many of the film industry people as his route is through the studio para in Tollygunge. His hero-like outfits remind you of Salman Khan, who is an undisputed god for autowallahs in our country. He relentlessly distributes his pictures in various studios for a big break. Can't you already guess what will happen next? This context gives way to the next cliche.
Cliche number two: Enter the heroine, Chumki (Amrita). Obviously she is his childhood friend, motherless and living with a strict father. She cooks, earns by sewing clothes and most importantly, secretly loves Kelo. Her unrequited love prompts her to lend him money, support his dream and suffer silently knowing that he loves another. Remember Ayesha Jhulka in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar?
Cliche three: Continuing from our first point, when nobody is giving patta to our auto driver hero with a heart of gold, what else do we need? Of course, a makeover. We, the Indian audience, know this from watching numerous 'behenji bani babe' makeovers in films and TV serials. So, Chumki lends Rs 20,000 to Kelo, which he uses to get an acting course and a complete makeover. We're sure, at this point, Arjun Chakrabarty must have given a relieved sigh to get rid of the grey pallor of makeup that the director must have decided an auto driver should have. Come on, how can an auto driver have fair complexion?
Cliche four: The love triangle. When Kelo becomes a famous hero and starts having a relationship with co-actress and dreamgirl Juhi (Ankita), we all know that he will not end up with her. Again predictably, there's a last-minute realization of love, chase sequence and like all the previous film of this genre, a happy ending.
The film is barely watchable because of Arjun and Amrita's performances. They are effortless in portraying the enterprising Kelo and the simple Chumki. But the script is full of over-smart dialogues and unnecessary puns. It's also fixated on bowel movements. The audience may have warmed up to this concept on screen after watching Piku, but not everyone is an Amitabh Bachchan and not every film has a Deepika or Irrfan. So, if you want to watch Auto No 9696, apart from a few performances, the film or the story has nothing much to offer.