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Notebook Movie Review: It Is Salman Khan’s Purest Ode To Love

Subhash K . Jha

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Notebook

 Starring Pranutan Behl, Zaheer Iqbal

Directed  by  Nittin Kakkar

Rating; ****(4 stars)

 It is significant that Salman Khan is a producer  on this the tenderest most lyrical love story of his career  . Salman has repeatedly expressed his aversion to physical love  on screen , PDA at its most public  if you please. He doesn’t ever  kiss his heroines.

Neither does his new discovery Zaheer Iqbal ,a  strapping young athletic  debutant who  demonstrates  unexpected spurts  of  compassion  at  pertinent points  in  the plot.Zaheer is a lambi  race  ka ghoda.

This  is  a romance where  the lead  pair doesn’t meet. They  touch each other’s lives through words. Not poetry, mind you. This is not an occasion to do a Pakeezaah on us. Director Nitin Kakkar whose last film Mitron is a neglected gem , creates a stirring alchemy  in the romance. The mood is as somber as  the Valley when  the guns  are silent. The narrative  moves at its  volition heedless  of  how rapidly  the world moves  for  people  who  treat love as  a commodity to  bolster their ego.

 This  is  a love story that dares to be  pure.And sublime. It  defines concept  of  echo-walking  , where  one protagonist walks on  the footprints left behind by another,bringing  together the two  polarized protagonists  in  ways that they themselves wouldn’t  comprehend.

 Kakkar and his writer Darab Farooqui  keep it simple all the way, On  the surface  the  narrative  courts  tranquility  withnaïve earnestness . It refuses  to submerge  its consciousness  in the  political issues of Kashmir,knowing fully well that it can’t  escape  the reality of violence. But then there  is always that escape  route where  the artiste  can con himself into  believing  love conquers  all.Notebook takes the quiet gentle  route.

Notebook   believes  in  the sublimity  of  love. That  it actually  makes us  invest  in  its  belief , that it  avoids making us feel cynical about its purehearted depiction  of  love, is a very rare  occurrence  in cinema  today.  Hence there  is  Kabir and Firdaus who are  in love with the  idea of  being in love with  one another. This idea of idealized love is beautifullytranscreated in  the  scenic  splendour of Kashmir  . 

I with  Kabeer and  Firdaus’  meeting  would have been more tellingly crafted.

The  two  newcomers are  fluent  in their movements  expressing growing  fondness  for  their doppelganger  love. ZaheerIqbal is unconventionally heroic. He displays  a surprising spurt   of unrehearsed  emotions . Pranutan   has  a fragile  yet  strong  presence. With time this talent  can be polished  into a  definition of gleam.

 There  are some  very capable new actors some Kashmiri,  in  supporting roles. And  the  seven children who are an  integral  part  of  the film’s winsome aspirations,  will  win your heart .

I know we say this each time Kashmir is put on celluloid. But this  one  is  truly  shot like a dream by  cinematographerManoj  Kumar Khatoi.Every frame  tells  the story  of a Valley  bruised battered and  wounded  by  violence  while  preserving the  sanctity  of  the love that runs through the  film like  a colt  in the wide-open.  In  every frame the  protagonists seem  to  hold each  other’s hands without being together.

Notebook is  a film replete with rich resonance.  The unhurried pace ensures we absorb the emotions that trickle down  from  the frames.But  the desperate  effort to  forge a clumsy climactic  shootout  from  the  raw yet resonant material was uncalled for. This film needed no manipulative hands. It wins us  over  without trying.

And the symbolism  of  a gun being drowned in the lake is out of place in this polished work.

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