Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, better known as Irrfan excels at playing the oddball character with such rakish flamboyance that you instantly gravitate towards it. Be it Piku in 2015, Hindi Medium this year and now Qarib Qarib Singlle, Irrfan knows how to cater to the gallery as well as the cosied up couple holding hands and having popcorn from one bucket. Whereas Parvathy as Jaya is the solitudinarian, whose life revolves around her job in the insurance sector and getting pity filled advice from women around her.
For a movie to grip you for two hours with mainly two characters, the director needs to define the psyche of each with surgical precision. Because without an instant connect, the script may fall apart even before things start unfolding on the big screen. Director Tanuja Chandra addresses that in the initial few minutes of both the introduction sequences of the characters. In Jaya’s case it is the scene where she finally subdues her inner fears and creates a profile on a dating app and instantly turns back. As lewd messages from creepy men keep flooding her inbox, we see the struggle and quandary on her face as she contemplates her action. She breaks the fourth wall often, as if taking advice from us in the audience. In India, dating, specially for the ones on the wrong side of 30, is still considered a taboo. Jaya is aware of the stigma around it and tries her best to hide her new online activity from her immediate family and from acquaintances who basically revel at her misfortunes.
With Yogi’s character too, the director gives him costumes and one liners which may raise a red flag in any normal woman’s mind. But Jaya is no ordinary woman. As much as she judges Yogi for his apparent ‘unscrupulous’ ways, she gives him another chance. This says a lot about society today, where face value takes precedence to heart. Jaya is not the speed dating expert and she acknowledges fallacies and allows the odd yet sweet Yogi to grow on her. And as an audience we enjoy the awkwardness! Because we know, the journey towards mutual exploration starts from the point we stop being judgmental and truly learn to know each other.
The rest of the movie is a road trip where Yogi and Jaya visit the three former lovers of Yogi through various places in India. Road trip sagas have an instant appeal to the audience. Be it the fun, adventure, sexual exploration factors of a road trip, or in this particular case, understanding of two characters who are poles apart on the superficial level, but equally lonely on the inside.
As a reviewer, I get a sense of the connect of the movie from the way the audience reacts to certain scenes. The intensity of the laughter evoked by jokes of various levels of hilarity shows how people are engrossed in the story. And this movie has a lot of sequences which are shouldered both by the lead actors as well as the writers. Even the now customary usage of old Hindi movie songs is done correctly in this movie. And thank God for it. They used the soulful “Bade Acche Lagte Hain” song from the 1976 movie Balika Badhu, but as a bonfire song and as a relaxant instead of a stupid remix, as seems to be the norm these days. How creative would it be for movie makers to re-imagine an erstwhile hit song instead of shamelessly remixing it. It’s a pity that huge production houses make a mockery of classic songs while a small budget movie like this one gives due respect to the classic and fits it perfectly with the narrative.
Qarib Qarib Singlle is a movie which will transport those of you in love to the various stages you went through during you own love story. It will make you smile and laugh and hold hands of your partner a bit tighter towards the end. While for those who are still single, this movie will make you look forward to a love live with renewed vigor. Because if Yogi and Jaya can find each other, you too will.
gobblpoint—Irrfan has carved a niche for himself with the roles he has been selecting recently. Which augurs well for Bollywood as more directors will be inspired to take a fresh script to A-Listers like Irrfan.