Free Press Journal

Movie Review: Zubaan – Unique but not credible enough


Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Sarah Jane Dias, Manish Chaudhari , Raaghav Chanana, Meghna Malik

Director: Mozez Singh

Rating: * * *

Debutant Director Mozez Singh’s efforts to craft a unique cinematic experience bears fruit in his ‘Zubaan.’ The style and creditable inputs from most aspects of filmmaking are top-notch unfortunately the story doesn’t connect the way it should have.

And the problem here lies mainly with the patchy script that tries to network a series of disconnected relationships in the hopes of being different. The relationships never make sense and as a result the credibility of the entire enterprise becomes suspect.

None of the characters in the film are lily white. Each character has short-comings and some even gray shades -as a result they all appear realistic. That much is good, certainly. But the connect between them is not well established in cinematic terms and that’s where the film fails. The liberal use of Punjabi in the dialogue also makes it that much harder to understand the bonding between unrelated character s.

Harpreet/ Dil-Sher (Vicky Kaushal) runs away from home post his father’s suicide in a bid to chart his own career away from the agony of his father’s abandonment. Gurucharan Sikand (Manish Chaudhari) was the man who prompted him to yearn beyond what his circumstance would allow. Harpreet’s father was a Gurbani singer in the local Gurudwara and because of his sudden loss of hearing gets replaced. The humiliation of having his son stand in for him and the isolation looming forth drives him to take his own life. Harpreet moves to the city and shares accommodation with Mehta- a family friend. He hears of Sikand’s meteoric rise in the Enterprise world and yearns to remind him of their chance meeting during his younger days. So he joins a security firm which has Sikand’s company as it’s clients and criminally inveigles his way into Guru’s circle. An opportunity comes his way in the form of a construction workers strike and Dilsher grabs it with both hands. Guru is impressed by Dilsher’s initiative and takes him under his wing. In the process he learns of their earlier chance encounter and gathers him closer into his family fold. But Surya(Raaghav Chanana) is envious of Dilsher’s closeness with his cold-hearted and calculating father. Surya and his mother Mandy (Meghna Malik) do their best to drive Dilsher away but Dilsher is a glue that is hard to come unstuck. While these shenanigans are on Dilsher meets up with Amira (Sarah Jane Dias) an underground artist who draws him in and motivates him to express his true talents. Dilsher , caught between the cross currents of a crumbling host family and his deepest yearning , is forced to forge a path that takes him back to his roots and eventual  release from the shackles of conventionalism.

 Ashu Pathak’s music and lyrics are appropriate but the surreal treatment for the songs don’t fit in well with the narrative. They appear to come from two different wave-lengths. Mozez’s narrative exemplifies a style that marries surrealism with earthy vigor but it’s not always a happy one. While Amira is a catalyst for Dilsher’s transformation, her existence in his circle of friends is as flighty and unsupported as it can get. Also it’s not very clear what she does for her living other than singing in underground lounge bars and picturesque settings without any great audience to establish her credentials. The settings don’t suit the telling. Throughout the film we’re left wondering as to why such disconnected people have been brought together in one frame?

Vicky Kaushal is an amazing , unaffected actor and this his second film, showcases his brilliance in understated elan. Manish Chaudhari, Sarah Jane Dias, Raaghav Chanana and Meghna Malik  add a certain class to the experience.

Uma Gaiti’s choreography suits the soothing songs more than the movie but it’s Swapnil Sonawane’s cinematography, Khyatee Kanchan’s production design and Mozez Singh’s unique story-telling style that raises the bar in terms of experience.