Meri Pyari Bindu Is  Tedium Wrapped In Retro Sounds: Movie Review

Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Parineeti Chopra

Directed by: Akshay Roy

Sometimes a debutant director shows a spark that never quite lights up the screen. God knows, Akshay Roy displays a keen eye for Kolkata’s eccentricities: the trams and the fast-food lanes, the Durga idol silhouetting the hero’s suicide attempt,  the loud boisterous parents of the Bengali protagonist Abhi….so called, so that the theme song of his love story could be  ‘Abhi na jao chod kar ke dil abhi bharanahin.’

Abhi….get it?

There is a lot to ‘get’ in Meri Pyari Bindu including its corny cross references to films about unrequited love like Karan Johar’s Ae DilHai Muskhil  and Nikhil Advani’s Katti Batti .Then  there us film’sPadosan-inspired title.The film’s most embarrassing sequence has  Abhi’s parents enacting the Kishore Kumar song in a car park.

Cringe late.  Parineeti Chopra playing the unstable undependable  runaway bride to the stable dependable rock-steady dulha material  of a hero,explains that she was named after Saira Banu’s character in the evergreen  comedy Padosan.

“Why couldn’t he  name  me Saira?So much sexier,” she drawls intoAbhi(na ja chhod kar)’s ears as they zigzag in an old Ambassador car through the Kolkata of the  1980s.This is life in the fast lane wheremiddleaged Bengali men speak of Satyajit Ray in the same  breath as  Bindu’s on screen vamping.

The  cultural mishmash ceases to amusing after a while.

Clearly, Akshay Roy has a   lot of fun picking out nostalgic nuggets from our musical past.Aaiye meherbaan dekhiye jaan-e-jaan plays on a black-and-white  television set as some poor man hangs by the roof adjusting the antenna.This is a scene straight of a promotional film on Doordarshan’s glorious era. It is correct historically culturally but lifeless. Ditto, the film which is as  immaculately assembled in a retro  huddle asSuprotim Sengupta’s writing permits. But the proceedings are as dull as ditchwater  with scene after scene serenading nostalgia with no room for the characters to grow beyond stereotypes.

Take Abhi’s Bengali parents. They are clownishly Bengali, screaming and bustling  as though Kolkata was on fire. This is not an authentic Bengali household. It is how we see a Bengali household when the Bengali writer detaches himself from the milieu and language to the extent that he can  no longer peer into the cultural dynamics without appearing touristic.

There is something distinctly stilted and artificial in the way the songs define the central relationship. Both Ayushmann Khurrana andParineeti Chopra are musicians. It is  therefore surprising that their keen appetite for the melodies of the past do not render themselves to any substantial or coherent commitment to creating a film about a quirky girl and her devoted nextdoor neighbour  who serves her purposes,whatever they may be.

Parineeti  did this far better in Haseen Toh Phasee.

Khurrana as the hangdog loverboy is the saving grace of this dreadfully vapid non-romance about an annoyingly selfcentred chick who needs to exercise some self-discipline(unless she thinks KanganaRanaut in Queen is a role-model) and a guy who needs to get himself a life. The film goes through several decades  of fads and fashion changes until it comes to a screeching halt with a finale that is as pointless as the prattle and preening that goes on for the most tiresome two hours of your life.

See the film for Khurrana’s sorted balanced intelligent performance as too  some interesting cameos , like the actor who plays Khurrana’s publisher  exhorting Khurrana to put sex and sleaze into is books.

I almost wished director Akshay Roy had livened up the proceedings with some unpretentious sleaze instead of the unintentional cheesiness that runs through the film with stubborn impunity. At one  point in the meandering saga of star-crossed non-lovers we see Abhi’s room-mate glued to the Grand Finale of Bigg Boss while Abhi tries to deal with the mess in his life.

It  made me nostalgic for the abhorrent Bigg Boss .

 

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