It is quite simple in its story, of a boy meeting a girl, falling in love at first sight, and attempting to woo her, not realising that she has someone else in her heart. And even after the realization, it sticks to reality in the sense that he does things which would be true of any person smitten. Have we not walked our girlfriends home? Have we not held their hand and guided them over puddles when we go enjoy the rain in Lonavala? Do we not harbour dreams of dancing for our sweetheart and proclaiming our love with the entire restaurant looking on? Do we not rejoice when she blushes a deep red when you are kneeling and the all the people in the room are rooting for her to say YES? Is it not natural that in the excitement of all this, a guy falters and falls flat on his face. What then is so artificial about this film that everyone is sinking their daggers in its chest and carving a Christmas turkey out of it? I risk fingers being pointed at me for bringing in comparisons, but at least, it is more believable than running on to the streets of New York and breaking into a dance where everyone else including the Yankees know all the steps.
This film compels you to go into the protagonist’s character to experience the full force of it. Once you are in the character, it matters little that the rocks are artificial, that the river which flows here is essentially the same water which has been channelled in from the fountain at the town square, and even that when the heroine comes sailing at night, there is no one paddling the boat. Yes, I noticed these “lapses of direction” as you would call them, but they were irrelevant in the context of love. Is it not true that when you’re in love, the most insane thing looks absolutely perfect. I am glad that SLB chose to build a set so artificial that love is the only thing that seems to be real. It is everywhere, in Raj, in Sakina, in Gulab, in Lillipop. You can give me a hundred things which were wrong in the movie, but I will give you just three scenes.
Masha Allah – Until the first occurrence of these words, the song does not picturise Sakina’s face in full, and when it emerges out into the moonlight, Raj looks at its beauty, resplendent and glowing in the milky moonlight, and exclaims, “Masha Allah”. His eyes are so wide, that he wants to soak up the ethereal beauty in front of him all at once. If this was a qawwali, this is when you would say “Wah Wah”. All through, the lyrics carry you forward through the thoughts going through his mind, and as you bask in his thoughts, you gasp, “Masha Allah”. Further down, we see them sailing underneath a bridge and she signals to him that the bridge is low, so they bend towards each other. And for the brief amount of time they pass the bridge, they have their heads down to each other, Raj metaphorically surrendering himself to her beauty. Silence, breaths held to an extent you can hear the heartbeats, the unequivocal ambiguity of what to say when one sits up again upright, and then “Masha Allah”. If this isn’t finesse, what is?
The scene where Raj and Sakina are standing on a raised platform on the town square, and he takes her in his arms and swivels her around so that her feet are off the platform and hanging mid-air away from the edge where he is standing. She clings on to him for support, knowing that the ground under her feet is far below, and he balances her wrapping his arms around her, almost saying, “I assure you I will not let go of you, not now, not once in life”. If this isn’t literally sweeping a lady off her feet, what is?
The scene where Sakina folds her hands in a namaste to ask forgiveness, and just as Raj wraps his palms around her hands, she retracts them, and says “Humne tumhe maaf kar diya”, revealing that now, Raj is in a position asking forgiveness. There are a lot of things like this, which make you feel lighter, which will take you back in time to remind you of things which you may have done or thought of doing. The guy, in awe of the girl, thinks she is leading him on, and reciprocates his feelings. The girl, obviously flattered by the interest shown, tries to humour him. If this does not bring out the coy one-upmanship igniting the sparks of a mutual attraction, what does?
What's good in it?
Sets are extravagantly created, in an obvious attempt to re-create St.Petersburg in winter. Music is superlative. One could not ask for more from a debut performance. Directing music for the first time, after having given background score of Black and Devdas, Monty Sharma gives an above-par performance with music with enough pain in it to make you cry. The lyrics complement the feelings of the actors and are like little ferries which take you from one part of the story to another, and by the time you are there, you know what the actors went through. I would, however, have liked a bit more Urdu in the parts where Sakina’s feelings are depicted. Due to their use in bringing the thoughts out, one feels that the songs are a bit over-used, and having a similar base, all the songs (except one) seem similar, as if they are stemming out of the title song Saawariya.
Ranbir and Sonam would still have to prove themselves in commercial films under big banners, because this film does not give them much space to deviate from the adaptation and bring in their full repertoire into use. However, Ranbir's dancing skills and toned body have been exhibited for those film makers who would want to bank on him. Zohra Sehgal impresses in her small role, and Salman Khan and Rani Mukherjee are wasted. Any one would do in their place, and it seems that they have been added to give the star value to the film.
My reco - If by going to a film, your expectation is to while away the monotony of five days in office, then this film is not for you. This is something that has to be watched for the effort that has been put in to bring out love as the only real thing, all else artificial. As a fantasy, it is certainly more believable than Paheli, which has a ghost romancing a girl and impersonating her husband. (I delayed watching Paheli after hearing this very line “ghost romancing a girl”, but when I watched it, I liked it).
A beautifully made film, you will appreciate it as soon as you identify yourself with the character in even one scene, and that identification will happen if only you have ever loved someone to the point where all else seems futile and meaningless.