Mumbai, 10 Nov 2017 11:05 IST
Director Tanuja Chandra's travel romance is fortified by sparkling writing that oozes wit and charm.
It is always a risk when a director chooses to make a film that is markedly different from their previous ventures. Tanuja Chandra [Dushman, (1998), Sangharsh (1999)] succeeds remarkably in creating a wonderful, slice-of-life romantic comedy that builds on its lead actors' charm and chemistry.
The story begins with Jaya Sasidharan (Parvathy) a 35-year-old widow, going through her mundane routine that only highlights her lonely life. Out of desperation, she chooses to upload her profile on a dating site, Abtaksinglle.com, only to receive the cheap, shady messages that every woman is subject to. But there's an exception — a strangely quirky message by Yogi (Irrfan Khan), a poet.
The two are as different as chalk and cheese. Yogi is a mysteriously rich, quirky, Jack-Sparrowish Urdu poet who never balks even in the most ridiculous situations. Jaya, meanwhile, struggles to cope with this whimsical character which is totally unlike her reserved, shy self. Tired of hearing Yogi boast about his girlfriends, the two set out on a journey to discover the truth, and end up discovering the joy of a new relationship.
While travel rom-coms are a dime a dozen today, the magic of Qarib Qarib Singlle lies in the sparkling wit, repartee and screenplay. The story, screenplay and dialogues are written by women (Kamna Chandra, Tanuja Chandra and Ghazal Dhaliwal) and possess a touch of relatability, and truth.
The film moves at an even pace, interspersed with some hilarious conversations that, as absurd as they are, do not feel out of place. The portrayal of the struggles of a single woman approaching the concept of dating after a long time is wonderfully captured. The scenes of her longing for companionship, the struggle of letting go of the past, and the hesitation of accepting a feeling are themes that are embedded beautifully through well-placed scenes. This applies to both characters which are well fleshed out.
Khan delivers with aplomb as the quirky, unruffled poet, Yogi. His comic timing, panache, and wit hold the movie up. In Parvathy, he has a co-actor who manages to keep up with the mercurial pace of his quirkiness. The actress's performance is the emotional crux of the film, and her transformation has a wonderful arc. Their scenes together, and even apart, ooze with irrepressible humour. It is a nice change to hear the audience tittering with every joke that is played out on-screen.
However, director Tanuja, in her enthusiasm for experimentation, has used a number of scenes and shots that she could have done away with. The 'breaking-of-the-fourth-wall' is a motif that falls flat, and often seems forced into the screenplay. There are moments when the characters' feelings towards each other do not translate onto the screen, but the presence of the actors manages to cover these cracks. Shot at some picturesque locations like Jaipur, Benares and Gangtok, the film has enough visual attraction to keep you glued when the pace of the film falters.
Qarib Qarib Singlle is a wonderful, well-paced film that captures the struggle of 30-somethings finding relationships in this increasingly young world. The film is a great choice for a date, or a quiet night spent under a quilt with a bucket of ice-cream. Either way, it is just as comforting and delightful.