'Kuch Bheege Alfaaz': Where tenderness adds balm to misfits of
metropolis (Review By Subhash K. Jha ; Rating: ***1/2)
In his latest directorial venture, the prolific and insightful director Onir probes wounds that never heal. The love that grows between two wounded people trapped in the numbing bustle of the metropolis, Kolkata (it was Delhi in Onir's previous film "Shab") -- is not uncharted territory in the cinema of emotional diaspora that Onir has constantly explored in "Life in a... Metro".
In "Kuch Bheege Alfaaz", the traditional tearfulness associated with the emotions of hurt, pain, betrayal, isolation and guilt are alchemized into a warm-hearted, frothy-but-never-frivolous look at how craggily man-woman relationships pan out in the city.
There is a lot of ‘ping' in the pain of mutually shared hurt between the pair as they exchange messages on the phone that they find very entertaining.
Onir shoots his love stories in the pitiless heartland where he succeeds in ferreting out a bedrock of compassion while his protagonists, melancholic but smiling misfits of the metropolis, struggle with their isolation and suffering. In the movie, Alfaaz suffers in abundance for a guilty secret that he harbours from his teens.
Hint: It is to do with a pretty bright 15-yearold girl Chhavi played by Shefali Chauhan.
It's Alfaaz's good fortune that his misfortune is portrayed by an abundantly emotive new actor. Zain Khan Durrani is most decidedly a prized find.
His command over his character's dithering emotional graph is impressive. His command over the Urdu language and the sher-o-shayari that his radio jockey's character is insistently required to spill into the scanty screenplay, is even more impressive, especially in today's cinema where our heroes "think" in English.
Zain, with his restrained ruminative romanticism, makes you overlook the film's bleaker bits -- the repetitive use of the Whatsapp theme to drive in the point of how contemporary relationships are driven in to the zone of tenability on the Smartphone.
After a point, those pings on the screen just begin to seem annoying.
The lead pair, though, keeps our attention from flagging.
If Zain is every bit the dreamy RJ with a nightmare tucked in his heart, Geetanjali Thapa (so brilliant in "Liar's Dice") as the sunshine girl with a skin ailment, gets into the skin of her character, though some of the script's attempts to scrub her conscience clean of all self-pity is way too tactless (a blind date who keeps digging his nose, for example, hardly makes for a convincing case of self-worth for the girl with the skin ailment).
Zain and Thapar keep us watching. Zain's voice playing across the radio waves gives the narrative a romantic heft that the film may have otherwise lacked. The supporting cast is also well-woven into the script.
Mona Ambegaonkar as Thapa's feisty mother and Shrey Rai Tiwari as Thapa's best friend with a nosy mother serve potentially hackneyed roles with an empathy that goes a long way into making the core romance convincing, at times even sublime.
The film's Kolkata locations are solidly shot by Nusrat Jafri to capture a city trapped between an evaporating traditional edifice and a rapidly developing urbanisation.
Significantly, "Kuch Bheege Alfaaz" ends not in Kolkata, but scenic, silent, serene Shimla with the film's most memorable moment of empathy where Zain's Alfaaz is shown resting his weary, guilt-ridden head on the shoulders of a grandfatherly figure.
The moment expresses a stirring mix of regret and hope, the kind of emotional synthesis that we rarely get in today's cinema. Cherish it.
'Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz': Predictable and soulful (Review By Troy
Ribeiro, Rating: ***)
In today's world of instant romance and quick formulas, director Onir's "Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz", though presented with all the trappings of a modern day, heartfelt romantic drama, has an old-world charm. It is a tale of two melancholic misfits who fall in love.
Set in Kolkata, the tale intertwines the lives of Archana Pradhan aka Archie and Abhimanyu aka Alfaaz.
While Alfaaz is employed at a local radio station as a radio jockey who hosts the late evening show - an episodic series of unrequited love stories called "Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz", Archana is a young vivacious girl who works as a copywriter in a creative agency called ‘SirKasm' that creates content for "foot-prints" on the online media.
Alfaaz, despite being a popular and sought-after RJ is a reserved guy who likes to bask in his isolation.
Archana, on the other hand, despite suffering from leukoderma and being constantly rejected by guys, has an air about herself. Though she is close to Apu, her colleague at the agency, she resorts to blind dates on a dating app. After a series of her blind dates going awry, how she meets Alfaaz and how they fall in love, forms the crux of this tale.
The screenplay is suave and quirkily modern, making the film have a fresh feel. As the story unfurls, we realise that RJ Alfaaz has a mysterious past. His guilt is what has moulded him to live in a cocoon.
And like any romance drama, there is pathos written in every scene. The presentation is sensitive and layered, but the narrative trudges tediously. The first half is painfully slow and the pace picks up marginally in the second half.
The film sweetly offers life lessons like, "Life does not give us second chances…", "Love is in the eyes of the beholder" and many more… and though these life lessons have been oft heard, they seem to snuggly ensconce in the predictable plot. But what is commendable about the writing is Onir's ability to camouflage the young Abhimanyu in the flash-back scenes, thereby creating a suspense element to the story telling.
Debutant Zain Khan Durrani as the RJ Alfaaz is an engaging actor who is natural on-screen. When he first receives Archie's call, he has the grace to seem a little surprised and he executes it to perfection.
Geetanjali Thapa is every inch the spunky Archie who internalises her pain with her pragmatic demeanour and smile on her lips. She is aptly supported by Mona Ambegaonkar as her feisty mother. They make a lovely real-to-life, mother-daughter duo.
Shray Rai Tiwari as Archie's "best friend" Apu is stereotypical. He is the ‘Stepney - a spare tyre in a vehicle', a bouncing board when things go askew in Archie's life. You empathise with him and do feel for him when he trots along with Archie, especially in the scene at the shoe store.
Debutante Shefali Chauhan as Chavi the young school girl at the hill station is impressively natural and charming.
On the whole, the film has decent production values and is well-executed. The soundtrack of "Pehla nasha" is effectively used to up the viewing experience.
Overall, credit must be given to a film that delivers the goods, and if you've ever liked Onir's films, you're likely to enjoy this one.
Actress Geetanjali Thapa essays the role of a young meme artiste affected by leucoderma in Onir's latest directorial "Kuch Bheege Alfaaz". She says that most people don't understand that it is a non-communicable skin disease.Read More'Pehla nasha' was my all-time favourite song: Onir
Filmmaker Onir, who has dabbled with the romance genre
in his new film "Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz", says he chose his all-time favourite
track "Pehla nasha" to feature in it.
Saregama's Yoodlee films' "Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz" is a modern-day love story in the age of social media, of two characters -- RJ Alfaaz, played by debutant actor Zain Khan Durrani and meme artist Archana, played by Geetanjali Thapa.
In the film's trailer, Onir has used the original composition of "Pehla nasha" from "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar".
Onir, who got the rightsRead More