Laila Majnu is an adaptation of the classic Persian tale of Layla-Majnun and as in case of all modern adaptations, is bound to attract varied reactions from the audience.
Written by Imtiaz Ali and directed by Sajid Ali, this story is set in present-day Kashmir which provides a beautiful backdrop to the story.
Laila and Qais belong to prominent warring families of the city.
Laila is a spunky girl, a die-hard romantic and a Maine Pyar Kiya fan waiting for her prince to sweep her off. She has the reputation of a tease who likes getting attention from boys.
Qais has the reputation of a typical rich spoilt brat and a flirt.
Needless to say, the two sparks meet and flare up a romance which was bound to be doomed (no spoiler as we were mentally prepared, it being a Laila Majnu story, but we kept hoping for a positive climax).
The first half of the film seems like a typical romance with cliched “boy tries to woo girl “ and “ girl plays hard to get” kind of treatment. Some of you may find it too stereotypical but honestly I liked the old world charm of the sequences, so different from the confident and bland depictions of the modern day romances.
For a change it was good to see the boy parking himself in front the heroine ‘s balcony to just get a glimpse of the day; Or him waiting for her to give him her phone no. herself while he could just get it easily enough. In spite of being in present times, a love story where texting is not an elementary part of the wooing added a freshness.
The second half soon turns gloomy when the lovers have pulled apart and the story takes a sorrowful turn.
In the last leg, the movie gets into the real Laila- Majnu mode with Qais getting forlorn in love and literally out of his mind. Personally, I found this part a little stretched and not too convincing. I can’t say if it was the writing or it was just the heart-rending pain of Qais that made it feel a little extended. Unlike the original story in which Laila was as helpless as Majnu, in this case, I felt it was Laila’s indecisions and failure to take a stand that let to Qais’s plight.
Nevertheless, the film looks beautiful, artistic and poetic throughout. The beauty of the canvases and reallocations of Kashmir, which has become a rarity in films, was like an icing.
The cinematography by Sayak Bhattacharya gives us breathtaking captures of Kashmir.
Music by Niladri Kumar and Joi Barua added soul to the frames and the movie. It was beautiful and melodious, to say the least.
Last to be mentioned but the most important part is the performances by the lead pair.
Avinash Tiwary is a complete surprise package. With such natural (not so dashing as a typical hero) looks, the man is a complete natural when it comes to acting. He had his own subtle charm in the first half and turns superbly intense in the second half. He was the one who could successfully convey the pain, the craving and the longing of a desolate lover to the audience.
Tripti Dimri is great as the effervescent, spunky girl. But the second half belonged to Avinash through and through.
Sumit Kaul does a good job in a negative role with his Kashmiri diction perfect to the T.
It was good to see Benjamin Gilani after a long time in a small role (as Qais’s father).
Parmeet Sethi plays Laila’s father in a decent but unremarkable role.
This movie as I said in the opening lines, is bound to get varied reactions. How you relate to it would completely depend upon your palate for cinema.
For Imtiaz Ali fans, romantics and cinema lovers, it could be a good watch. Others would need to find what they like before deciding to go for it.
Score 6 on 10