Cinevista : ‘Parineeta’:Unpretentious entertainment
Bollywood fans are in for a modest treat with this unashamedly brash period romance, adapted from the novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Connoisseurs of the genre will particularly appreciate a familiar touch of aspirational knitwear for the male lead: a sensitive woolly polo-neck. In 1960s Calcutta, Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) is the rich but essentially decent guy, secretly in love with the beautiful girl next door (Vidya Balan) whom he has known since childhood and who has the faintly unfortunate name of Lolita. Drama and tragedy ensue. It’s unpretentious entertainment: robustly constructed and handsomely furnished. The contradictory moods are, too, well balanced and preserved. It’s unclear why the original novel has been shifted from the early 20th century to the 1960s, unless this dizzying translocation was done so that the hero can play jazz on the piano and savour the songs of Elvis Presley.
The narrative, pacing and dialogue delivery are shaded and opened-out. Though shot indoors, the effect is of a liberating light rather than an unventilated darkness. Newcomer Vidya Balan is a refreshing change from the conveyer-belt heroines of today. She looks like she would rather stroll in the garden than pant over the treadmill. But she fails to comprehend
the innermost nuances of the character. To her credit, the debutante is surrounded by beauty and harmony, both in the cast (Raima Sen and Diya Mirza are pretty wallflowers) and the production design. Sanjay, though looking strangely tired, gets the tone of the era right. But it’s Saif who walks away with the acting honours. Expressing the rancour, petulance, arrogance and insensitivity of a spoilt rich heir, he lets the bile and tears flow unabashedly. His grip over his character’s sensitivities is apparent though not in any come-see-how-good-I-am way. (Genre: Drama/Romance, 124 minutes, Directed by: Pradeep Sarkar, Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Shekhar Rai, Vidya Balan)