In the recent past, Bollywood has created a new category of flicks. Anupama Chopra calls this category: ‘posh people problems’. I call these characters, “meaningless millennials”. These characters are typically free of the kind of problems one would expect third world citizens to face, or at least the middle class people from the third world. Befikre followed the story of two young people in love in Paris, who have no problems in life except to how to work out their tempestuous relationships. Their bills are paid, their parents love them and they have almost nil career stressors. In Dear Zindagi, the main protagonist, a twenty something woman, struggles with abandonment issues and the whole film is about her relationship with her therapist. In Noor, the similar formula applies.
Based on Saba Imtiaz’s novel, “Karachi, You’re Killing Me!”, the film shows Noor Roy Chaudhary as a resident of Mumbai and the film tracks her love, work and existential crises. Our central character doesn’t like her job, wants to lose weight and has an annoying best friend. She wants to do ‘meaningful’ journalism but ends up judging Sunny Leone and sneezing while taking her interview; in short, Noor is like every other millennial – filled with self-pity when things go slightly bit awry and self-involved to the point of being dangerous.
You cannot fault the performances. Kanan Gill is perfect as Saad, Noor’s funny and permanent bff. Sonakshi Sinha manages to make the audience like a character that could get annoying very, very fast. Her portrayal is light-hearted and earnest – but the character itself seems devoid of any genuineness.
The shallowness of Noor’s story is filled by a human interest plot hook. But it just ends up making Noor seem shallower than the creators probably intended her to be. In a quest to ‘break’ an organ-harvesting scam, Noor risks the life of her domestic helper, Malti, whose brother’s kidney has been stolen by a local doctor. Noor is depressed but to cope with this circumstance, Saad whisks Noor away to London where she attempts to have a fun night out to forget that she actually caused a human being to die out of sheer irresponsibility.
In a feeble climax, Noor tries to make up for her mistake by – making a facebook video. That’s right. A Facebook video. The video goes viral and Malti forgives Noor for her brother being killed by the hands of the powerful henchmen. One wonders why Noor couldn’t have done this in the first half. One also wonders how she wasn’t threatened after this video when she was threatened by the powerful organ-harvesting evil people (we never really explore that angle, the big bad people are a shadow, a phone call that propels Noor to her London break). Perhaps the only genuine interactions she has in the film are with her best friend, which says more about Kanan Gill and Sonakshi’s performance than it does about the story itself.
Sonakshi and Kanan make the film an enjoyable watch. Their dialogs are well written – they are contemporary and intelligent. What doesn’t work is the deliberate attempt to make the film into a social statement than the fun watch it could have easily been. In one scene, Noor actually tells off her boss after Malti’s brother’s death, “This isn’t my fault!” The confusion is – does this mean that London trip was for nothing?
Aah. If only all of us could fly off to distant, beautiful lands to escape our connection with the slums in the cities.