Qarib Qarib Singlle revels in the repartees of Irrfan Khan, writes Deepa Gauri
'Qarib Qarib Singlle' can be a little drab if you look for preconceived patterns in story-telling. You could find glaring holes in the film that professes to be rooted in reality. And the plot points could come off as rather forced.
But there is an undercurrent of outright honesty that shines through in a film about lonely hearts, about people who are what they are due to circumstances or perhaps because they are too idealistic in love.
In Qarib Qarib Singlle we have Jaya (Parvathy, an exceptional actress who has proved her mettle down south and all set to be the next Vidya Balan, if one may), who is lonely, and leads a rather muted existence, being considered as the 'stepney (nay steppini in Indian speak) auntie' and the one who has nothing to do but babysit other people's children and cats.
Then there's the maverick Yogi (Irrfan Khan), a man who has had three soul-crushing romances, and is yet single, for reasons only he knows.
When the two meet over a dating site and then in person, no sparks fly. That is of course so Bollywood. After all, Yogi is not the typical Bollywood hero; there is nothing in him to be charmed by other than his honesty, and armful of hilarious repartees. In fact, for a good chunk of the film, it is Irrfan Khan and his one-liners that lend it momentum, as the camera pans through Jaya and her confused, existential dilemmas.
When the two set out on a journey to meet Yogi's former lovers, Qarib Qarib Singlle becomes more of a road movie - not just in the frames of Hrishikesh and Gangtok - but also glimpses of the mindscape of the two protagonists.
There are no surprises in store, of course; after all, this is just a sweet little rom-com with none of the star baggage. Things become rather forced and contrived too, especially as the writer tries to 'break free' Jaya - which is also the weakest link in the film.
On the downside, nowhere across the film do we form any emotional connection with the protagonists, nor do we see anything such forming between the pair. The calculated risk of having two extremely different personalities, putting them through a road trip and enabling them to discoverer themselves, so it turns out to be an emotional catharsis for the characters and the audience, is lost in translation.
But for all its narrative let-downs, the film gains tremendously from its lead cast. Irrfan Khan, though seen in his usual droopy, sleep-deprived, irreverent manner, lends the film its feel-good factor, with his one-liners and the essential goodness in his character.
Parvathy is rather under-utilised, if you go by her earlier films in Malayalam, and the flashes of brilliance come through only towards the climax, where Jaya, the character, decides to own her life.
'Qarib Qarib Singlle' is not a mindblowing film; it is not conventional Bollywood. But if you like to see films that talk about issues people can relate to, about stories that do not tire you with their inanity, this is worth a look. If not anything, you are assured of some hearty laughter thanks to Irrfan.
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Parvathy
Directed by Tanuja Chandra
Now playing at theatres in the UAE