Written by Manisha Lakhe
QARIB QARIB PERFECT
Dating online makes the single gal Jaya TK (Parvathy) braver than she has ever been. She is at first alarmed and then amused and irritated enough by the ever happy, perpetually gabby Viyogi played effortlessly by Irrfan Khan who talks her into a cross country journey to meet his (and hers) exes. She discovers herself on the trip and we fall in love with Irrfan Khan. Delightfully written road trip film.
The pace of the film is simply marvelous. There is no time to blink or you’ll miss either on the great writing or the story moving forward. This film is as they say, Qarib Qarib Perfect (almost perfect). There are a whole lot of shots where the camera is unable to decide whether it needs to zoom into the face for a close up or step back and be happy with the mid shot. That slight jerky movement is distracting but the writing is fluid and you drown in its competence.
That brings us to Irrfan Khan. He’s shows up on a date after a jog, insults sandwiches, casually asks the girl out for a date, and cleverly gets her number, and confuses her by charming her socks off: So when are we going to give some business to the coffee shops next…
Parvathy is such a foil to the chatty Irrfan, rolling her eyes and challenging him at every turn you are happy to watch them spar with words. ‘Who are you going to say I am when you meet your ex?’ she asks Irrfan. And when he smiles at her and asks a question for a question, ‘What would you like to come as?’
Now we know everything about Parvathy from the first ten minutes of the movie. We like her and sort of feel sad for her when she is treated as ‘stepney aunty’ (someone who literally a ‘spare’). But when her friends push her, she signs up on a dating app and discovers Irrfan. You will love the travel tale that the writer/director Tanuja Chandra.
They travel from Rishikesh to Jaipur to Gangtok. Yogi has his exes there and Parvathy wants to see if they are still in love with Yogi as he claims. In Rishikesh, they meet the effervescent Pushti who calls him ‘mamaji’ (uncle) but insists Parvathy and Irrfan join them on an adventure ride on the white waters. They then take a Palace on Wheels style train (here’s where you’ll begin to wish the multiplex serves you pakodas (fritters) with chai). When they reach Jaipur, they meet the gorgeous siren of a woman who obviously has not forgotten Irrfan. This Neha Dhupia and you wish she gets better roles than she does…
This is where Parvathy starts to get a tad out of character. The drugged act is charming but just not convincing enough. The Gangtok trip just loses steam and you begin to notice that her blouse doesn’t really fit her right and she’s sort of lost the charm. But Irrfan watching his third ex (Isha Sharvani) dance in her studio with her students is a study in love. Parvathy in the meanwhile has gone to meet her ex, played by Luke Kenny (we are totally disconnected to these two, because there seems to be nothing there really). Parvathy’s strident yelling seems a tad illogical, because she hasn’t really contributed much to the connect Irrfan seems to have with her. But as I said, this film is Qarib Qarib Perfect. The resolve of the tensions between Irrfan and Parvathy is sweet, and you are convinced love is in the air even as you emerge from the theatre. The questions: Do we have to forget all our loves because you’ve found a soulmate? Have you learnt to make space for a new person in your life? Stay with you long after the movie is over.
P.S. Hoo Boy! Can Irrfan sing!
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)