Dir: Samar Shaikh
Starring: Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Kiran Kumar, Supriya Pathak, Zarina Wahab, Arjan Bajwa, Tanvi Azmi
If there was any doubt that Vidya Balan is one of the best actresses working in Mollywood right now then one only needs to see Bobby Jasoos to wipe away any sort of reservations. She is authentically terrific as Bobby (real name Bilquis), the 30-year old eldest daughter of lower middle-class Muslim Hyderabadi parents who drives her family to distraction by her refusal to get married and by her dreams of becoming a private detective. It’s not just the obvious parts of Balan’s performance such as the various disguises that she dons as part of her investigations. It’s also the more subtle bits such as the masculine physicality of her walk (thereby quietly understating the tomboyish nature of her character) and the hurt in her eyes when she fails to win her traditionalist father’s approval.
The mystery at the heart of the film itself is a bit of damp squib. A mysterious stranger, Anis Khan (Kiran Kumar) arrives in Moghalpura, a small but crowded locality of Hyderabad, Deccan and provides a fillip to Bobby’s fledgling investigative career. Anis hires Bobby to find some young people in a short period of time but without explaining why. It’s reasonably easy to figure out what’s going on so the suspense is limited but the mystery is actually a MacGuffin. The real fun lies in all the characters, big or small, and their interactions. The potential romance between Bobby and Tasawur (an effective Ali Fazal), a presenter on a local television channel, is deftly and sweetly handled. It both amuses and charms. Supriya Pathak is excellent as Bobby’s frazzled but loving mother as is Rajendra Gupta as her conservative father.
The presence of both Zarina Wahab and Tanvi Azmi in small but not insignificant roles also helps and Kiran Kumar is also very good. Along with Balan, however, the other stars of the show are first-time director Samar Shaikh and writer Sanyukta Chawla who bring a sense of verisimilitude to the Hyderabadi setting while successfully delivering some soft laughs along the way.
Though the movie never really drags it could have done with some trimming which would have helped to bring the mystery and suspense into some sharper focus. It could, perhaps, also have done with some bigger laughs as well. But, for me, the quiet pleasures of the movie (which in some ways reminded me of Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee in its slice of life ambience and gentle humour) outweighed any negatives.
Cut to chase: Charming little mystery comedy
Lekar Hum Deewana Dil
Dir: Arif Ali
Starring: Armaan Jain, Deeksha Seth, Rohini Hattagadi, Nikita Dutta, Sudhir Sahir
Imtiaz Ali’s brother, Arif, is the first-time director here (he also wrote the script). It’s also the first film for Kareena, Karisma and Ranbir Kapoor’s cousin Armaan Jain. Deeksha Seth makes her Hindi film debut (she’s already acted in a few Telegu and Tamil films). And all the inexperience shows in this amateurish affair which will probably have you in tears of boredom by the end.
There’s an interesting idea at the movie’s heart (that reality is often different from the starry-eyed notions of romance that young people tend to have) and Arif Ali’s script has echoes of both Jaane Tu … Ya Jaane Na and Saathiya, both movies about young love. But Lekar Hum Deewana Dil isn’t a patch on either of those excellent movies. The characterization is flimsy, the dialogue is perhaps even worse and Ali almost completely fails to capture the giddiness of young love or the intensity of the emotions involved. There are also many moments and ideas which are left undeveloped (such as that of Armaan’s elder brother’s crush on another girl). Arif Ali could really have benefited from a helping hand from elder brother, Imtiaz who really is one of the best Hindi film writer/directors going at the moment.
As for the young leads, Armaan Jain has the family looks (he reminded me of both Shammi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor at times) but not yet the talent. Irritating is the one word that comes to mind to describe his performance.
Deeksha Seth, however, has presence and performs reasonably confidently and creditably under the circumstances. She may have a future for herself in Mollywood yet. But to top it all off, surprisingly, the music by A.R. Rahman can only be termed lacklustre, especially by his standards.
Overall, this is a bit of an embarrassing watch. However, I’ll be a bit generous and give Lekar Hum Deewana Dil an extra half-star, considering all the inexperience involved (apart from A.R Rahman),
Cut to chase: Two words – excruciatingly amateurish