TAARE ZAMEEN PAR. STANLEY KA DABBA. CHILLAR PARTY... Several prominent film-makers have made films that transport you to your early days. Now Karan Johar takes you back to your teenage years with GIPPI, directed by first-timer Sonam Nair. While this is Karan/Dharma's first film with a lady director, it also marks the production house's foray at narrating a story minus 'stars'. The focus, obviously, is on kids here, but let me add in the same breath, the confidence that these kids emanate easily equals most skilled actors of our times.
We're often asked, which have been the best years of our lives? As one reflects on the years gone by, one realizes that the years spent in school were the best, for sure. Of course, one didn't value it as much then, but the truth dawns upon you in the latter years of life. GIPPI takes a leaf out of our lives to recount an account that one can relate to.
Frankly, Gippi's could be yours, mine, anybody's story. Many of us go through a phase that's between teens and adulthood. Films like GIPPI talk to every parent, every child since kids, generally, at that age, don't know how to deal with situations and challenges that life throws at them. The feeling of insecurity, anxiety, edginess that one experiences during those years is delightfully captured through the various kids in the film.
Gippi [Riya Vij] is a 14-year-old living in Shimla with her single parent [Divya Dutta] and younger brother Booboo [Arbaz Kadwani]. She's plump, self-conscious and doesn't know how to handle the changes in her life. In school, she's constantly bullied by Shamira [Jayati Modi]. At home, she's waking up to the fact that her father [Pankaj Dheer] is all set to walk down the aisle with another woman.
During the engagement ceremony of her father, Gippi is introduced to Arjun [Taaha Shah], a senior in the school. She's attracted to him, but mistakes his friendship for love. However, the love story comes to an embarrassing end at Shamira's party, who's quite a snob. Gippi decides to take life in her hands and contest the school elections against Shamira...
I've often observed, several films that attempt to address teen issues neatly appear exasperating and phony. Not GIPPI. This one's well done, captures the emotions sensitively and is packed with anecdotes that make this motion picture pleasurable. Sonam does complete justice to the written material of a youngster putting together her own coming-of-age story. The issues depicted in the movie, the metamorphosis that Gippi goes through, the bitter-sweet episodes... nothing seems conventional or borrowed from films of a similar variety.
Sonam, who has assisted Ayan Mukerji and Vishal Bhardwaj, seems like a proficient storyteller, for technically speaking, there are no glitches and the storytelling is devoid of hiccups as well. Besides, handling the kids and nurturing them into delivering polished performances is a cumbersome task and Sonam seems accomplished here as well. Vishal-Shekhar's soundtrack does not skip the emotions and keeps the spectator all glued during the songs. The usage of yesteryear hits is, of course, an added bonus. Anshuman Mahaley's cinematography captures the stunning hilly terrain and the beauty of Himachal Pradesh with flourish.
The kids are the stars of the enterprise! Riya essays her part with utmost understanding, depicting every emotion with such natural ease. Arbaz, enacting the part of Gippi's brother, is endearing. Doorva Tripathi, as Gippi's best friend Anchal, is wonderful. Jayati Modi plays the snob with flawlessness. Mrinal Chawla, as Kabir, is wonderfully restrained. Aditya Deshpande, as Ashish, is just right.
Divya Dutta gets to portray several emotions in her character and the actress, like always, is in terrific form. Pankaj Dheer is perfect in a brief role. Taaha Shah looks his part and acts very well. Raqesh Vashisht doesn't get much scope.
On the whole, GIPPI is a credible take on the 'coming-of-age' variety of movies. This one's straight from the heart. Sweet, simple, emotionally engaging, heart-warming cinema!