Saturday, March 5, 2016


Release date:
March 4, 2016
Mozez Singh

Vicky Kaushal, Sarah-Jane Dias, Raaghav Chanana, Manish Chaudhari, Meghana Malik, Harmehroz Singh

It boggles the mind that one of the producers of The Lunchbox is a co-producer of Zubaan.

If you were to pre-judge Zubaan by its credits alone, you might assume that it is an artistic gem. After all, Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment earlier backed that cinematic jewel about two people anonymously bonding over food, which made waves in India and abroad in 2014; the male lead is His Royal Cuteness Vicky Kaushal who burst on to the national scene with last year’s Masaan; Vicky’s co-star here is model-cum-actress Sarah-Jane Dias who sparkled in Angry Indian Goddesses just months back; and Varun Grover who scripted Masaan is one of the lyricists featured here.

Aur kya chahiye? Bahut kuch, as it turns out. A worthwhile story, a solid script and strong direction, among other things.

This is the sort of film that could be screened for FTII freshers to illustrate that eternal cinematic truism: that writing is the foundation of any good film, direction is its cornerstone, and all the embellishments in the world cannot salvage a feature that is deficient in either of the above departments.

Debutant director Mozez Singh’s Zubaan is a meandering mess. It wanders all over the place as it purportedly tells the coming-of-age story of a Sikh boy called Dilsher Singh from Gurdaspur who comes to Delhi to become the protégé of a billionaire builder. The said builder, one Gurucharan Sikand a.k.a. Guru (Manish Chaudhari), had apparently started his career from scratch in Gurdaspur. Many years back, he gifted a pen to a shy little chappie (Harmehroz Singh) from his home town and imparted some unsolicited wisdom to the child, who was so taken in that he held on to the pen and zipped off pronto to Delhi as soon as he was able, to use the pen as a reminder of that interaction, sneak his way into said billionaire’s affections and I s’pose become wealthy himself.

To achieve these goals, he lies through his teeth, maims a man, betrays another and deliberately destabilises Guru’s family. Why? I mean, what is it about that single, passing interaction from all those years back that makes Guru so desirable over and above all the other rich guys in the city? What makes him worth all that deception and violence? Don’t know. Dilsher’s seeming motivations are simply not convincing.

Vicky plays the grown-up Dilsher. Somewhere between his pind and the sheher he cuts his hair and gets rid of his pagri for reasons not explained to us, until he returns to his turban and Gurdaspur in the end, which I guess is a way of saying he found himself during the course of the film. So deep. So very very deep.

The Zubaan mix has many elements that are no doubt meant to have equally profound implications: Dilsher’s stammer, his Dad who died in tragic circumstances, Guru’s disgruntled wife (Meghana Malik, best known as Ammaji from TV’s Na Aana Iss Des Laado), his son Surya (Raaghav Chanana) who he abhors, a pretty girl called Amira (Sarah-Jane Dias) who is coveted by Surya, her dead brother Dhruv who adds nothing to the storyline but is discussed anyway in mystical tones, and lots of shadowy spaces.

At one point in the story, Amira holds a memorial of sorts for Dhruv under the stars at a kinda camp she calls Dhruv Tara, in some unnamed desert region in Delhi or thereabouts. She erects a giant white cloth star there, sings a long song and has all her friends release floating lamps up into the sky. Why? What does this sub-plot mean? How does it contribute to Dilsher’s journey?

I repeat: Don’t know. And by now, don’t care.

There is an early scene in which Guru’s munim asks Dilsher point blank: Tumhara game kya hai? (What’s your game?) Having patiently sat through this excruciatingly soporific flick, I am convinced Dilsher himself did not know the answer and the writer-director does not either.

The production design is pretty in the spaces inhabited by Zubaan’s well-heeled characters but it is also self-conscious and studied, with too much emphasis being given to the look over all else. The film also does not live up to its promotional tagline “the musical journey of the year” – Music Is My Art is the only number that lingers, not for any richness or complexity, but because it is foot-tappingly, pleasantly poppish.

At the film’s premiere in Delhi, Mozez Singh announced that Vicky had shot for Zubaan before Masaan, which in his view technically makes Zubaan the actor’s debut film. Dear sweet, lovable Vicky, please say a prayer of thanks that Masaan released first. If Zubaan had come to theatres earlier, I am not sure I would have woken up in time to catch your next film.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ½ (half a star)

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
118 minutes

No comments:

Post a Comment