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Sensuous and crisp



THE EXPERIENCE LINGERS: Parineeta

Parineeta
Genre: Romance/musical
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, Sanjay Dutt, RaimaSen
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Storyline: Love and longing in Calcutta; friendship, hidden passion, jealousy and of course, the difficult parent
Bottomline: Rekha does an item number...

What if Devdas wasn't such a crybaby? What if he actually stood up to daddy and married Paro? He'd probably be like our Shekhar. They're both Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay heroes seen through the kaleidoscope of Hindi movie melodrama _ Devdas in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Devdas" and Shekhar in Pradeep Sarkar's "Parineeta." Although fans of the Bengali novelist are clicking their tongues at the liberties both directors have taken with the scripts, it's heartening that "Devdas" and "Parineeta" have enough similarities to prove they are stories adapted from the same writer; the grand havelis, childhood love that grows into tumultuous passion, the weak, obsessive heroes and even the kind of crises Devdas and Shekhar have to face are proof enough.

And yet, the two films couldn't be more different. Sarkar's "Parineeta" is sensuous, beautiful and even captures the lifestyles of Calcutta's (it's still Calcutta in the movie) elite. Yet it restrains itself from the decadence that characterised Bhansali's "Devdas."

It is set in the 1960s, about five decades later than the original story, so that Shekhar can listen to Elvis just like Sarkar probably did as a teenager.

The film remains crisp, says what it has to and moves on to songs that linger in your ears and on your tongue ensuring you won't forget the "Parineeta" experience in a hurry. Much like Sarkar's previous work as an adman (who gave us lines like "Bole mere lips, I love Uncle Chipps").

Vidya Balan makes an impressive debut as Lolita, an orphan who becomes Shekhar's (played with style by chhota nawab Saif Ali Khan, but naturally) playmate and constant companion through the years.

The two enjoy a friendship so close that they don't see their lives intrinsically linked forever.

The others see it but perhaps don't notice that Shekhar and Lolita aren't just friends, they are soulmates. It takes an outsider, Girish (Sanjay Dutt), who falls hopelessly in love with Lolita, for everyone to realise that Shekhar and Lolita belong together.

A simple enough story, but Sarkar tells it well, with some great shots of Shekhar and Lolita together. Except for the end where Shekhar decides to break down a wall between him and his love, the symbolism of the gesture is too much to bear.

The soundtrack by Shantanu Moitra is fabulous.

Interesting fact: The train in the song "Yeh hawayein" is the same one used in Aradhana's "Mere sapno ki rani" with Saif's mum Sharmila Tagore!

Susan Muthalaly

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