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'Kuch Bheege Alfaaz': Where tenderness adds balm to misfits of metropolis (Review)


Film: "Kuch Bheege Alfaaz"; Director: Onir; Cast: Zain Khan Durrani, Geetanjali Thapa; Rating: ***1/2

In his latest directorial venture, the prolific and insightful probes wounds that never heal. The love that grows between two wounded people trapped in the numbing bustle of the metropolis, Kolkata (it was in Onir's previous "Shab") -- is not uncharted territory in the cinema of emotional diaspora that 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.

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 played by Shefali Chauhan.

It's Alfaaz's good fortune that his misfortune is portrayed by an abundantly emotive new 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

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, (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 may have otherwise lacked. The supporting cast is also well-woven into the script.

as Thapa's feisty mother and Shrey 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 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, 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.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 15:02 IST