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Lockdown Blueschasers: Two Kartik Aaryan Gems That You Missed



Lockdown Blueschasers: Two Kartik Aaryan Gems That You Missed 4

Silvat(2018):  If you  haven’t seen  this 2018  digital  film  which you can easily  locate on  Zee5, you haven’t seen  what Kartik Aaryan  is   capable  of. We can safely  say it  is a tailormade role for the  young actor. Playing a Muslim darzi in the crowded gully  of  what looks like Mumbai’s  Haji Ali locality, Kartik is  every bit Anwar,  the shy sensitive  tailor who develops  a secret passion for his  favourite  client: a  lonely abandoned wife  Noor(Meher Mistry) whose husband has  migrated to  Riyadh for  a job with nary  a glance back for the woman he has left behind.

The  focus of  the passionate  plot, pulsating with unspoken ardour, is Noor. But it’s Kartik’s Anwar  who silently steals   the show.There is  no exhibition of outward passion here.And yet  so much is said through Anwar’s eyes. Every stolen glance is  laden with longing. When she asks if he would like  a cup of tea, Anwar knows  it’s just a  ruse to make him stay longer than his job allows.His reply to the  kind  offer, ‘Maine  kabhi  chai ke liya naa bola hai?’ says  everything without saying anything.

This is Kartik’s only film with  a female  director.  It is evident that he blossoms  as  an actor  under  the female gaze.I  have always been fond of Tanuja Chandra’s work. She understands women , men  and the dynamics that govern human relationships. In the  40 minutes  of  playing time in Silvat there are  lot of unstated emotions. It as if the writers  chose to leave  the words out  because  they knew there  was little time to waste  here.

Tanuja Chandra  whips up a muted urgency between the  couple. They know  their love can never be .That  there can never be  a silvat(crease) on the bed as long as the husband is away.

Tanuja’s eye  for detail is astute and  comprehensive. The interiors of Noor’s  tiny home  where most  of  the plot unfolds,is  every bit what  it should be, Functional, neat, desolate….The  film is shot on location in a Muslim locality  with  streetside  vendors frying parathas and  malpuas,  hawkers selling bangles . The bustle of  the street is  weighed against those  heavy loaded silences between Noor and Anwar.

They know they cannot cross the wall that divides them.A married  young woman dutifully waiting for her  absconding husband  to return home cannot give in to her emotional and physical desires.This  is 1997. And  riots  don’t  happen  only on the streets. Sometimes they  also occur  in a woman’s  lonely heart.

   Akaash Vaani(2013):  Strangely this undiscovered  gem  too is   about a mis-marriage, and  its fatal consequences. In one of the film’s high dramatic moments shot on a small deserted railway station in the night, the film’s protagonists, now estranged by  an unfortunate series of circumstances, sit on the bench and…well, they sob. Yes, they simply cry their hearts out. First, the girl. Then in a melancholic celebration of the me-too syndrome, the boy, now alas no longer a boy(and he smokes to prove it) also breaks into little sobs that build up into a wail as the shehnai, indicative of  a cruel marital joke, plays in the background..

The sequence in the hands of a lesser director would have fallen flat on its sobbing face. Luv Ranjan has the punch-filled boys-will-be-boys saga Pyaar Ka Punchnaama behind him to prove his solid grip over the grammar of the hearts  of the young and the confused.

Akaash(Kartik  Aaryan) and Vani(Nushrat Bharucha) seem clueless about what they really want out of life, or from each other. Is Akaash fooling around with her in the college ? Is he serious in his filmy antics? Or filmy in his serious antics?

Ranjan’s screenplay takes the lovers from the corny escapades and frigid philosophizing of the college campus to the precipice of heartbreak.The journey given a vivid visual manifestation by   Sudhir K Chaudhuri’s fluid camerawork, is made with ample feeling and remarkable restrain.

 Unlike other contemporary celluloid raconteurs Ranjan is not fearful of silences. He doesn’t fill up every conceivable nook and corner of the storytelling with words and music, though I must state here that Hitesh Sonik’s background music  and the songs in the later part of the film go a long way in building  an appealing case for the lead pair’s star-crossed relationship.If Akaash and Vani seem so lost without each other it’s a lot to do with the way their emotions are pinned down by the words and the music that underline the course of their togetherness.

On many occasions Ranjan allows the lead pair to share silences. A rarity in today’s cinema where it is presumed that the average moviegoer has the attention-span of  a sparrow looking for twigs before the rain starts pelting down. There are long meditative stretches of just simple non-verbal communication between the protagonists. It’s a risk to allow audiences to get restive. But a risk worth taking.

Ranjan’s lovers come across as people who do what they do not to impress others but simply because their heart tells them to behave the way they are shown. Both the lead actors are extremely affective in showing their character’s innerworld. Nushrat Bharucha has the author-backed role as the girl who must sacrifice her love to make her parents happy. Not exactly the most novel of ideas. The sincerity with which the young almost-new actress approaches her part propels the part to a level beyond the mundane.

 Yes, you feel the girl trapped in a marriage of compromise where the cruelty is so intangible and prone to sarcasm that it seems negligible from the outside. Director Luv Ranjan shows Vani’s  suffocation through some disturbing scenes of marital rape. Outwardly Vani’s husband is no brute. She carries no signs of his cruelty on her body. It’s worse. The soul gets wounded.

In a languorously-shot lengthy stretch of post-marital escape into Utopian happiness we see Vani united with her lover again. They spend time together,frolic in the snow, live out some of the dreams they had dreamt during courtship.They don’t talk much.And when they do the words are never meant to impress us. For a change the couple seems to be talking to each other rather than to an imaginary audience.

 Kartik  Aaryan manages to hold his own with an endearing performance far removed from what he attempted in the director’s Pyaar Ka Punchnaama. He is  here  to stay.Though there are patches of aridity in the relationship(what was Akaash doing while Vani was suffering in malfunctional domesticity?) this is a very good film about a bad marriage, or what  havoc a wrong decision about one’s life can create.

To his credit director Luv Ranjan is able to hold the lovers’ predicament in place .He has a keen eye for the inner life of his protagonists.Their inner turmoil is palpable and urgent.Seldom since Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s have we wished so intently to see two people in love to be united . Ranjan quietly sucks us into the story of Akaash and Vani. Suffused in contemplative silences and deriving its dramatic energy from the age-old debate on  arranged versus love marriages, Akaash Vani is thoughtful and  absorbing not prone to  tripping over with nervous anxiety and excessive energy to hold our attention.

The world of Akaash Vani is far removed from the bantering bawdy backchat of Pyaar Ka Punchnaama. But that is the beauty of the second film. It tells you that the director is not frozen  in his initial world.With first-rate performances by both Nushrat and Kartik this is one love story you can’t afford to miss.

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