A film that has a rather raw title like Lafangey Parindey from a director (Pradeep Sarkar) that has only two products to his directorial credit requires a lot of thinking. On the one hand, you remember the strong content and execution in Parineeta, and on the other, you shiver even thinking about the nightmare called Laaga Chunari Mein Daag(LCMD). What do you do? On top of it all, the tepid music and low-key promotions don’t really encourage us to go for the movie. Such were the thoughts in my mind as I settled down in the seat of the hall five minutes before the show was to start. And then the lights dimmed.
Nandan “One-Shot Nandu” Kamtekar (Neil Nitin Mukesh, a rather unlikely but highly competent choice), a fighter with a repute, works for Usmanbhai, a shady person. Pinky Palker (Deepika Padukone) is a girl with dreams to get out of her sick life – the only way to which would be able to take part in ‘India’s Got Talent’ and showcase her exquisite dancing skills. But one shocking incident leaves Nandu guilt-ridden and Pinky blind. What do they do then?
Newbie Gopi Puthran’s story is simple, understandable and moving- it captures the essence of not only the characters in the story, but also the raw beauty of the place they live in – Mumbai. Films like Anand, Bluffmaster! , and Wake Up S!d have done that in the past, and this one’s no less. Though many may claim the plot is mostly ‘been-there-done-that’ sort, I’d say which movie doesn’t have that? Rather it’s the way the story is narrated that makes a movie a winner; Puthran’s screenplay to his story is what makes this movie commendable. What drives the movie forward is its fast pace and the way the screenplay has set base to the characters in the film in the first 20 minutes itself, while most other films spend most of its pre-intermission in character development. Puthran, who has also doubled up to write the dialogues in the movie, has written some of the wittiest tapori one-liners, which, combined with perfect timing, works big-time in the film!
Advert-filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar made a show-stopping foray with his adaptation to Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s lesser-known novella Parineeta, a woman-centric film, following it up with an awful LCMD, another woman-centric film. So it comes as a surprise when he chose a rather youthful love story with a twisted underlay, giving equal importance to both the male and female characters. Nevertheless, Lafangey Parindey is Pradeep Sarkar’s answer to those who took him to be a failed filmmaker after his LCMD.
As in his last two movies, Sarkar maintains that he has a penchant to put to life some of the most striking visuals, thereby creating a visually stunning film, thanks to the Director of Photography N. Naratarajan Subramanium who has done a fantastic job of painting the storyboard to life. Watch out for the fight scenes, especially the introductory fight, which is so detailed it can make for some of the most grippingly and graphically violent scenes in Bollywood in recent times. Be it the slow motion or the extreme closeup of the droplets of blood, each frame of the grit ends up being stylish. The editing (Sanjib Datta) is tight, and use of different elements further adds to the grit intended to be picturized in the movie. Action director Shyam Kaushal has choreographed the combat and motorbike stunts commendably. Dance choreographers Bosco and Ceasar flip easily between the rugged dance steps and the more poetic ones on rollerblades. The music is the kind that won’t be appreciated as a standalone soundtrack album, but if seen with the movie, would sell more. R. Anandh has created some technically excellent tunes with experimental lyrics (Swanand Kirkire) that fit in really well with the situations of the movie, the standout ones being "Man Lafanga", "Lafangey Parindey" and "Dhatad Tatad". On watching the movie the audience will accept the songs better.
Moving on to the performances. Neil Nitin Mukesh does the rough act with aplomb and carries off the role of an aggressive chawl-residing fighter with ease, but it’s Deepika Padukone’s blind-girl act that takes you by surprise. Despite already proving to be a wonderful actress with her power-house performance in Love Aaj Kal, this performance makes her career-best till date. The swirls of emotions post her blindness, the hesitant stumbling, her temper – she pulls off all of it like a pro. Of the supporting cast, Namit Das (The President is Coming, Wake Up S!d) has a lot of potential moving up the ladder of Hindi cinema – despite being a wacky comedian as VJ in Channel [V], he tends to display an array of realistic, powerful emotions that don’t look tacky on him at all. Manish Chaudhary is decent, but unlike his meaty role in Rocket Singh, this time he’s relegated to the backside.
Overall, this movie has to be a perfect comeback flick for both Neil (whose powerful performance in Jail couldn’t earn his flick a box-office success) and Sarkar, whose last directorial attempt went completely haywire. With a simple, but emotionally moving storyline that bears a universal connection, and having power-packed performances by Neil and Deepika, this movie, apart from being paisa-vasool, is something you can carry home with you long after you’ve watched it. Yash Raj Films has reason to smile again – and so do the audience!