‘Noor’ film review — Sonakshi owns this joy-ride which manages considerable depth

Its an enjoyable movie about a relatable female protagonist, with potential to make you laugh and bring you to tears. So please, walk into a theatre, sit back and let it. 

As soon as the film takes off, we meet the titular Noor head on. She proceeds to tell us, in incredible detail, all about her life and why she hates it. As the incessant but crisp, conversational voice-over goes on and on, so do we on our journey into Noor’s life. She is much like any other dysfunctional upper middle class 20-something you’d find in Mumbai—Worried about her weight, the only romance being with Old (Monk) Rum and pinched by her father being more attentive towards their cat than her.

Noor Roy Chaudhary is a journalist, who judges everything including herself. But also has the glorified self-worth of actually being better than what this miserable world is letting her be—The peculiar result of a scholastic idealism that sprouts from nerd-ing it out in college and leaving it at the top of your class. Noor, wants to be a serious “issue-based broadcast journalist” while her editor has her covering silly sensational news.

The bumbling, stumbling Noor, is instantly relatable and likeable. She is more imperfect and miserable than our own sorry selves and we love it. We laugh at her as we see her blow her career, love-life and even her birthday—until it’s too much. Poor Noor deserves a break. So when she is dancing with abandon at a gig, full of rum, and with her two (and only) best friends, I felt genuinely happy for her. So much so, that I almost didn’t notice how atrocious the club-remix of Mohammed Rafi’s ‘Gulabi Aankhen’ sounded in the background.

Till this point the film is a fluffy joy-ride, as enjoyable as the similarly premised ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ was back in the day. And Sonakshi Sinha, at her self-deprecating and self-unconscious best, was born to play this part. She owns her character; you simply cannot picture anyone else do it greater justice. Sinha is the film’s most enduring surprise, apart from the fact that Bollywood could venture into making a woman-centric film with a story that has moved beyond violence against the female-body. But unlike Bridget, who is stuck worrying about her waistline and picking between the men in her life, Noor, the film and the character, delve a little deeper.

Purab Kohli and Sonakshi Sinha in a still from the film

Quite serendipitously Noor is at the cusp of breaking a major scoop that might propel her into the career that she’d always wanted. She also seems to have found the elusive prince charming (A CNN war reporter) played by the eternally charming Purab Kolhi. Director Sunhil Sippy demonstrates considerable range in delivering on emotional scenes as well as he does comedy, managing to employ Mumbai’s cityscape to invoke both joy and melancholy.

The high production value makes for some exquisitely-lit photography but the camera only moves in identical, repetitive pans that get tiring after a while. What is also tiring is Kanan Gill’s wooden acting that sticks out like a sore thumb. Smita Tambe on the other hand, as Noor’s domestic help Malti, steals the show. In a film that embraces exaggerations in all shapes and forms, her strong performance is remarkably internalized and real.

The music and sound design keep up with all the different directions the narrative takes, ranging from being dizzyingly up-beat to pensive through its course. In one memorable movement while Noor and her father wait outside Malti’s house the only thing you can hear are faint echoes of pigeons and children’s voices straight out of a real suburban chawl.

Many are already criticizing the film’s portrayal of the noble profession of journalism. But to be fair, Bollywood has never been known for it’s accuracy when it comes to such things. If anything, with the kind of decadence that’s starting to plague the media, the film presents what a lay-man’s idea of its inner workings might be like. And on introspection, some of the implausible plot-points might just come true in the twisted world that we live in.

This is a film that doesn’t try to cut larger than it’s fabric. Yes, a whole lot of things could have been done differently and maybe better, but that would make it a completely different film and not this one.

In the end, things tie-up quite neatly and happily, because after all this is Bollywood and not real life. It’s just a silly, enjoyable movie about a relatable female protagonist. It has potential to make you laugh and bring you to tears. So please, walk into a theatre, sit back and let it.

(Rutwij Nakhwa recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mass Media (Journalism) from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and is a Features writer for FilmIndia Global)

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