Saturday, October 08, 2016


Cold Hearts

There was a time when every star kid was launched with an intense love story. It’s been a while thet Bollywood has attempted a classic romance—Mirza Sahibaan, that stands alongside Laila-Majnu, Heer-Ranja, Sassi Punnu in Indian folklore.  Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, working with Gulzar’s script attempts to do an updated version of the Punjabi story, without letting go of its timeless roots. The result is a beautiful film without passion—a bit like dressing up a mannequin in designer clothes.

The old story set in a snow-clad landscape (definitely not Punjab) with actors dressed in vaguely Western medieval costumes, flashes through the new, set in Rajasthan amidst royalty. This allows for visual variety and opulence, plus a lot of touristy-looking, folksy song-and-dance. The mass of writhing people serve as a chorus to give the story the feel of a ballad, but the device does not quite work.

Munish and Suchitra were close friends in school, with a budding romance going on—he gallantly carries her bag, she takes a beating from the teacher on his behalf. A tragedy separates them, she is sent abroad to study, he grows up with a Muslim foster family,calls himself Adil Mirza and seems to be in love with the devoted Zeenat (Anjali Patil).

When she returns, Suchitra (Saiyami Kher), daughter of the Shakespeare-spouting police commissioner (Art Malik) is already betrothed to Karan (Anuj Chowduhry), a Rajasthani aristocrat. Adil is a stable hand looking after Karan’s horses. While teaching Suchitra to ride, they discover who they really are, and love strikes. Neither gives a thought to the feelings of their partner so callously abandoned for no fault of theirs.

It does seem a bit implausible that in a moment, she is willing to throw away her life for the sake of a childhood memory and wreck two families. It was acceptable in classic love stories, but in today’s times, portraying a spineless leading lady without the courage to speak up, is aggravating.  To make it worse, Saiyami Kher plays Suchitra/Sahibaan with the same wide-eyed, vapid look and doll-like smile.

One cannot even get a feel of Munish/Adil’s emotional state, because he is always seen as servile; how does he suddenly get the courage to elope with Suchitra? There is no build up to the crazy abandon of love, and hence, no real interest in these two characters and their inevitable tragedy.  A classic love story should be heart-wrenching and cathartic—Mirzya leaves one unmoved.

Both Harshavardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher may have to wait for their next film for the audience to be able to gauge their talent or lack of it. The music (Shankar-Ehsan-Loy), and Gulzar’s lyrics are the only elements in the film that are not disappointing.


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