Lessons in Love and Longing In Benaras

3.5 stars

Mini Review:

A lovely story about love, duty, everyday life set in Benaras.
A grouchy, crotchety man who does his duty by his wife
and daughter announces that he has arranged for his
daughter to be married off. The daughter rebels and
questions her dad: do you even know what is love? How the
question is answered is this lovely tale of heartache and
love and new beginnings.

Main Review:

Think Sanjay Mishra. And you know he can deliver the grouchy,
dissatisfied with his life, crotchety father who works at the post
office, quite well.

Think Anshuman Jha, and you know he will do his role of small
town lad Jugnu, who is love with the crotchety dad’s lovely
daughter very well.

Think Brijendra Kala. And you know he will make a very sweet
dad to Anshuman Jha. Slightly eccentric, he is a foil to Sanjay
Mishra’s Yash.

Think Shivani Raghuvanshi whom you saw last in Titli, makes a
very pretty daughter Preeti who is in love with Jugnu and mostly
good daughter to grouchy Sanjay Mishra.

Think Pankaj Tripathi and you know he can surpass any role
given to him. In this film he is Firoz, the husband of Suman, who
is on her deathbed. Pankaj Tripathi is shown to be the man who
loves his wife so much he is willing to give up everything so she
has a few more days to live. Pankaj Tripathi’s very evident love
stuns Sanjay Mishra (who has promised to and delivers a very
important letter that would bring money for Suman’s hospital stay)
who is amazed at such display of emotion. Pankaj Tripathi is so
good at this small role, you wish he were cast as Sanjay Mishra’s
grouchy dad instead.

That brings us to last character in the story. Ekavali Khanna.
Remember this name. This actor plays the long suffering yet
quietly happy wife to grouchy Sanjay Mishra and mother to Preeti.
She is the buffer between daughter and father, the foundation on
which grouchy Sanjay Mishra can live his grouchy life smoothly.
This actor is magnificent. She is beautiful in close-ups, conveying
her hurt and love and every other emotion demanded by the role
with ease. And she’s stunningly beautiful. She’s wearing sarees,
and salwaar kameezes in the film, and you want to know where
the costume design person sourced these clothes because you
want to buy them. You also wonder, how is it possible that Sanjay
Mishra is unable to say that he loves this woman? The audiences
sighed and fell in love with her wonderful screen presence!

Sanjay Mishra is a fine actor. And you know and understand his
dilemma. The fact that he doesn’t realise that love needs to be
expressed, and he hopes ‘she understands that I love her even
though I don’t say it’ is very obvious. His ego is wonderfully written
and his change of heart is also good. Although his attempts of
wooing his wife back are so terrible, one thinks the film is going to
go off the rails and shoot itself in the foot. Thankfully the awful
sequence is just an aberration (maybe the newbie director could
not rein in the overacting by a senior actor like Sanjay Mishra) and
the film is back on track.

The end is horribly predictable because we love the wife’s
character so much, and it seems like a compromise because
Sanjay Mishra’s patriarchal character is ‘hero’. But all in all, if you
know someone who is unable to express their love, drag them to
this lovely little film.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)

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