Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Akshay Oberoi, Aditi Rao Hyadari, Rahul Bhatt
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Rating: * * ½
Runtime: 131 mins
Abhishek Kapoor’s ambitious ode-to-love, an Indianised adaptation based on Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ strives hard to make the transition but the period and dated nature of the text does not allow for a transposition of culture and norms into a contemporary Indian set-up. And the problem area lies mainly with the story and screenplay by Abhishek Kapoor and Supratik Sen, both of whom do a niggardly job of mining the great classic for mainstream romantic fodder.
‘Great Expectations’ is Dickens’ best novel- in which humble, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman — and one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of “great expectations.” The classic novel is a gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward. Unfortunately Abhishek Kapoor’s third film( after ‘Rock On’ & ‘ Kai Po Che’) doesn’t come anywhere close to embodying any of these ideals. The metric he has settled for here is flat, dispassionate, un-ambitious craft that settles for the obvious beauty of the locales and camerawork to do the trick rather than dig deeper into the subtext for more meaningful glory.
Living in a ravishingly beautiful Kashmir, Abhishek’s Pip is Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) who starts off his career as a embroidery artist while helping out his brother-in-law with the family business of home repairs. On one of his daily routine chores he comes across a haughty Estella/Firdaus (eventually played by Katrina Kaif) on horseback and promptly falls in love with her. They soon become keep-your-distance friends and she introduces him to Miss Havisham/Begum (Tabu) who takes to him and decides to be his benefactress. But the hidden undercurrents behind that decision come to the fore only towards the climax when Noor, a celebrated artist suddenly realises that everything he has achieved so far has been not entirely of his own doing. As his dreams lay shattered Noor has to face up to the fact that the woman he has been obsessed with all along , sees no merit in attaching herself to him. She gets engaged to Bilal (Rahul Bhatt) , a well-heeled Pakistani politician , who can give her the quality and luxuries of life she has been accustomed too. Will Noor and Firdaus overcome their qualitative differences to forge an unforgettable love?
This certainly could have been an unforgettable movie experience. Abhishek and Anay team together to create some of the most stunning sequences ever rendered in Bollywood cinema. But the manner in which it’s been put together, fails to create magic. The tempo is extremely slow, a lot of runtime is expended in establishing the tenuous bonds between Firdaus and Noor and Noor and Begum and most of it moves at a snails pace and is imminently forgettable. Once Noor is an adult the confused plotting elevates him to the position of celebrated artist after one public showing and the justification of it all (towards the climax) seems a mite too in-substantive. The script could have done with a lot more rewrites, relations between characters should have had more clarity and the eventual reveal should have carried much more depth and power. Even the hidden truth when finally revealed, comes across as predicative and quite insubstantial. Even Ace editor Deepa Bhatia could do little to close in the yawning gaps in story-telling. As for performances there’s really nothing to write home about here. Tabu looks out-of-sorts, Katrina looks far too sweet to be haughty and Aditya Roy Kapur doesn’t appear to be very well clued in to the intricacies of his role playing. A chiseled body alone does not a performance make. One wonders if Rekha, who walked out of the film, saw this coming? Aditi Rao Hydari and Akshay Oberoi look lovely together as the young couple whose estrangement changes the course of several lives.
Abhishek Kapoor’s film may have failed in it’s efforts to rouse up a romance that could translate into a legend but it certainly manages to captivate the heart with it’s ravishing images of India’s own paradise-Kashmir. If nothing else, you are bound to Fall in love with Kashmir, here!