There is a song that plays in the backdrop when Abhimanyu (Ayushman Khurana) and Bindu (Parineeti Chopra) first get together. It’s called Afeemi hai yeh pyar, which is a little how I feel at the moment – slightly high on this beautiful little gem I caught today, when I should have been shopping for groceries and other household items (you shall judge me if I tell you when my house was last mopped).
When I say little, I only mean that if I had any semblance of a social life, I would probably have not watched this. Some of it has to do with my general disdain for Hindi romantic comedies, some to do with my suspicion of anything Yashraj. And when the film started, I almost felt that suspicion vindicated when Abhimanyu (henceforth Bubla, his daak naam) first finds a video of Bindu and him. Parineeti looks great in those first visuals, exactly like how Aditya Chopra visualises all women – thin, bronzed make-up, and messy-bed-head-but-carefully-styled hair. In sum, nothing like a young woman in 90s Kolkata. Bubla’s description of her also seemed right out of the Chetan Bhagat Manual of How to Reduce a Woman to a Few Pithy Stereotypes. So I settled myself in for a regular “modern” romantic comedy where the hero would talk about how a hyper-active talkative girl (ok fine, manic pixie dream girl) came into his life, changed it, but left him because she wanted to be “free” or something. And they would get together in the end (the film starts by telling us that Bubla is currently heartbroken over a girl) when the girl realised that our hero gave her wings all along.
Instead, what followed was a roller-coaster of emotions which is really quite inexplicable given how gently the film is paced. And, there is that word again, how reliant it is, on the “little” moments. The Big Boss watching friend and the running bet. The double ring missed calls on the sturdy landline. The cheating scene. Bindu’s telephone call with her property agent. Bindu and Bubla’s conversations on Marine Drive. The Mere Sapno ki Rani throwback in Goa. When she runs to give him a hug after already having said goodbye. The first time Bubla tells her about his feelings and asks her to respond with the three words every Bengali wants to hear (He means aami tomake bhalobashi, she comes back with korbo, lorbo, jeetbo). Little by little, the movie builds a loving portrayal of its heroine, her strengths and foibles, her dreams and fears, through Bubla’s eyes.
It helps that Bubla is a nice guy (though he treats a token girlfriend quite shoddily), aka not-Ranbir Kapoor from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. And it helps that both Ayushman and Parineeti are good actors with lots of charm. And this might be me being defensive after all the negative reviews I read, but yes they don’t share a crazy devouring passion. What they do share is a genuine camaraderie in all their interactions that I couldn’t help but smile every time they were on the screen together.
The film also does a spot on job of showing the parents, especially Bubla’s mother. The first laugh out loud moment for me she emotionally manipulates him about, well manipulating him into coming home. Then there was another hilarious scene when the father of a prospective bride reads out a scene from one of Bubla’s books (he is the writer of shady literature about daayans and chudails), with appropriate expressions. The parents (both sets) are also there when he proposes, and then again, sleeping on the floor of the drawing room (as they are likely to, if your son is a 20 something employed in Bombay), when they break up. These are the details that make you feel that the writer is sharing a part of his/ her life with you.
But it was really the climax that nudged me to the realisation that this film would likely be a little part of my life, my heart too. I was suddenly sitting there, seeing these beautiful people realise that though they were happy right then, there was no happily ever after - not professionally, not personally. And I wept copiously, not from sadness, but from joy that that was enough.