qubool hai

A scene from “Qubool Hai.” (Publicity Photo)

MUMBAI — Any connections with the TV series “Qubool Hai” (which ran in installments for fairly long many years ago) is restricted to the two lead players, their characters’ names and the common factor in Mrinal Jha. Otherwise, “Qubool Hai 2.0” merely uses the names, as we said, for a big-budget romantic thriller shot in Belgrade and (supposedly) in Pakistan.

Zoya (Surbhi Jyoti) escapes from an unwanted “nikaah” marriage in Belgrade and on the run, encounters Asad (Karan Singh Grover) by chance, who has come to the city to take part in a sharpshooter competition. Together, they outwit the goons whom Zoya’s would-be husband sends after them and finally reach the airport.

By this time, we know that Asad is no simple sportsman but has other shades to his persona, and is working for Indian espionage. It is also revealed that Zoya is the apple of the eye of her Pakistani defense minister father, Gen. Bakhtiyar (Arif Zakaria) who has kept her away from him for her safety. Asad is working for intelligence chief Malini Sood (Mandira Bedi) and is on a mission. Zoya and her father are the people he is after. But then, how does everything fit in? And what happens next?

On top of everything, the fluctuating relationship between Zoya and Asad is a crucial aspect. Then, there is Asad’s family in India that has to make do with rumors of his love affair with the girl and also worry because he has reached Pakistan by a chartered flight from Belgrade to drop her off safely. And finally, there is Asad’s job within Pakistan, with a rabidly anti-Indian Brigadier and a certain code that must be got by India.

What keeps this convoluted tale afloat are, one, the racy script with some superb dialogues and the terrific chemistry between the lead pair—the raison d’etre for them to be back in this similarly-titled series as their old serial. Surbhi Jyoti is, in one word, magnificent as the hot-headed, impulsive, Pakistani girl who has her own priorities. Karan Singh Grover is shown as a deadpan guy who rarely even smiles and acts with the required deadpan menace.

The supporting cast sees Arif Zakaria doing very well as the Brigadier who abuses India and Indians, while Gurpreet Bedi as Sana Shaikh, Zoya’s bestie, and Mandira Bedi as the businesslike Damini are excellent in relatively brief roles. The rest of the cast is good.

The action scenes are shot extremely well, and we don’t mean just the fight sequences as those who will watch the series will note. Full marks, also, to the cinematographer for his brilliant camerawork, both in the Belgrade locations and (what is shown as) Pakistan. The music is serviceable. The visual effects also are of high order.

The directors do a skilled job and the crisp length of each episode help. But the downer comes at the end. Cliffhangers now, reprehensibly, are an unavoidable part of most series looking ambitiously at another season, but in a romantic-cum-patriotic drama like this, they make for little sense. And here, the cliffhanger is particularly pointless and absurd.

Wish they had completed at least one angle of the story, the patriotic one or the romantic, if they wanted to keep things pending.

This also brings down my rating by half a star.

Rating: ***

Produced by: Abhigyan Jha & Mrinal Jha

Directed by: Ankush Mohla & Glen Barretto

Written by: Mrinal Jha

Starring: Surbhi Jyoti, Karan Singh Grover, Mandira Bedi, Arif Zakaria, Gurpreet Bedi, Lillete Dubey, Saurabh Raj Jain, Aryamann Seth, Abhishek Sharma, Shalini Kapoor Sagar, Daksh Sharma, Vaquar Shaikh & others

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