Zee Studios present “Qarib Qarib Singlle”
Produced by: Sutapa Sikdar, Shailja Kejriwal & Ajay G. Rai
Directed by: Tanuja Chandra
Written by: Kamna Chandra, Tanuja Chandra & Gazal Dhaliwal
Music: Anu Malik, Rochak Kohli & Vishal Mishra
Starring: Irrfan, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Brijendra Kala, Pushtii Shakti, Aman Sharma, Anagha Joshi, Luke Kenny, Navneet Nishan, Siddharth Menon, Neha Dhupia, Isha Sharvani, Navneet Nishan, Anuj Khurana & others
Director Tanuja Chandra has never given a successful film, though personally, I loved her “Sur” and liked “Dushman” and “Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar.” This time, she delivers a cute film, a mature rom-com as it were, but again she goes more than a bit haywire. This could be the undoing of her new film as well, though today’s audiences are a shade different.
This is a film that needed unconventional casting, and Irrfan Khan (back to being plain Irrfan in the credits, minus ‘Khan’!) and Parvathy Thiruvothu are just right, besides being major assets to the movie. Again, Chandra had extracted brilliant performances from actors as diverse and non-starry as Lucky Ali and Gauri Khan besides Preity Zinta (“Sangharsh”) and Kajol (“Dushman”) and achieved the same here.
Irrfan as Yogi, the bachelor at 40 who has never been standard husband material in the true sense and Parvathy as Jaya, a 35-year-old widow, are extraordinary in their roles and have to be, as they are the mainstay of the film. Irrfan is a revelation, being – yet again – the actor we all know as well as someone who gets into his character. Parvathy, like Padmapriya in last month’s “Chef” is one of those substantial South actresses who have much more to them than just the outer crust. Cast in a role that is in a way challenging, she is superb, especially in her earlier lonely montages as well as in her first meeting with Yogi.
The two meet on a dating site, and their first physical meeting is at a coffee shop. Parvathy is financially comfortable. Yogi is a poet, a man who has money to splurge, is carefree but has some clear values. He wears his heart on his sleeve, talks nineteen to the dozen and claims that the three (not 2 or 4 or 5 or more!) girlfriends he had still remember him with affection and regretful qualms that they did not marry him!
Being loaded, he offers to take Jaya to meet the three one by one, all the way from Mumbai to Rishikesh, the Rajasthan interiors and Gangtok, and she has varied but quirkily funny adventures and misadventures with him. His first, Radha (Pushtii Shakti), who is supposed to have wept buckets at her marriage especially because Yogi says he was not her groom (!) welcomes them with complete exuberance. His second (Neha Dhupia) would like to get a shade amorous with him.
The twist in the tale comes when they reach Gangtok, where Jaya reveals that her “boyfriend” from college days (Luke Kenny) is having a royal welcome for her, a shock of sorts because Yogi thought this was where hew as taking her only to meet his third ex (Isha Sharvani). By this time, they have had a few spats, and Yogi has told her that she can never be open-natured like he is, and she has told him that he is completely self-centered and that for him everything is only about himself.
(Incidentally, the numerologically treated word of the title, “Singlle,” is something related to the website they patronize, with a small significance for the repeated “l” in it. So in case the film’s makers have done it to cover their numerological approach, it is a master-stroke!)
The supporting actors are competent, especially Pushtii and the cabbie (Aman Sharma). Neha Dhupia does well, while Sharvani is only seen, not heard, as Yogi never meets her finally.
The music is disappointing, but the background score (Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor) makes up for this shortfall as the songs do not register at all. Eeshit Narayan does a decent job of the camerawork but in a slightly dated way,
Chandra should be lauded for giving us a clean romance with old-world charm but goes completely haywire in the second half in her pacing and scripting. Perhaps she should have watched the somewhat similar “Chalo Dilli” to know how to increasingly grip an audience already won over by a super first half, and yet keep a hidden wallop in the end, which would have been easier here as that earlier film was not about romance at all. A lot of the happenings here seem forced and unconvincing, and since it is all real and not melodramatic, it makes a significant part of the film dry and dragging despite the short length.
It would be a pity if Chandra came so “Qarib” (close) to success and missed the bus again. To me, “Qarib Qarib Singlle” is a film I would not mind revisiting on television a year or more down the line, but it is not that “Qarib” to be a winner in the times of a “Bareilly Ki Barfi.”