There is only one death in Love Breakups Zindagi (LBZ) and it isn't the death of our faith in the power of the rom-com to move and engage us.
When during a long wedding festivity in Chandigarh the affable Beejee (Farida Jalal) quietly passes away you are suddenly awakened into a world beyond the love and breakups that consumes the zindagi of the average 20-something urban youngster today.
Blessedly the characters who inhabit debutant director Sahil Sangha's plot are young urbane hip and happening, but not annoying in their shallow concerns. This is the world that the writer Sanyukta Shaikh Chawla knows inside-out. Sangha occupies the rom-com territory with confidence dignity and pride. But it isn't the arrogant pride of a filmmaker thinks he knows it all.
Sangha seems to share our bemusement and curiosity about the characters. He seems to explore their world with inquisitive candour, giving them space to grow even as they groan and whine and dine their way through a series of well-written misadventures that never end in an embarrassing dead-end.
Yes, you know the culmination. You know Jai (Zayed Khan) will get rid of his bossy fiancÃ©e and Naina (Dia Mirza) will be out of a suffocating association with a man who loves her but not in the way she yearns to be. You know how it will finally turn out. And yet you get involved with the lives of these mismatched pairs looking for love warmth and togetherness in a fast-moving world of cut-throat dreams.
Sangha lets the lives of his protagonists take their own time to get to know their hearts and mind. He is in no hurry to tell his story. The pace is steady and the flow of events not quite out of the rapid-fire round in a quiz show. Cinematographer Aseem Bajaj shoots the characters in warm detail. The cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh are never accentuated by the visuals. The characters inhabit their world unselfconsciously.
There are questions to be answered on what makes the urban relationship an endangered phenomenon. As the characters explore their own befuddled emotions and their misplaced devotions, the narration acquires its own momentum.
Here is a director who is not apologetic about letting his characters speak their hearts out Sangha keeps intrusive devices such as the background score at a bare minimum.
Love has its own reasons. So does this lovely, aesthetic and decent exploration of love and relationships. The characters speak a language and words that you've probably overheard between couples at cafes and in the lift. There's no straining for effect. As the film builds to a foregone conclusion (blessedly the hasty reunion at the airport is avoided) there is no apology for having adhered to the rudimentary regulations of the rom-com.
LBZ is a mellow and lingering look at lives that don't seem borrowed or faked. The film's title says it all. Happily this juicy slice of urban life delivers its drama with minimum fuss and optimum insight into how relationships tick and get treated in today's troubled times. Curiously there isn't a hint of sexual intimacy between the protagonists, or for that matter between the protagonist's friends, played with a casual confidence by Cyrus Sahukar and Tisca Arora who discover belated love.
The characters convey the warmth of a breakfast meeting conducted in the fresh outdoors under a mellow winter sunshine. Zayed Khan and Dia Mirza slip so effortlessly into their parts, you wonder what keeps them from reaching the top. Zayed has worked on getting his timing right. He is a revelation. Dia's empathy with her character's inner world is visible in her smile and eyes. She is a far better actress than she's made out to be.
There are endearing cameos by Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani and Shah Rukh Khan. But that isn't the reason why you'd want to see this amiable film. Treating his in-love twosome with genuine warmth, director Sahil Sangha displays confidence and sensitivity.
Here's a take on that thing called love that's urbane, intelligent, sassy and involving. Go for it.
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