Laila Majnu Review & Rating|
Laila Majnu Review: Lost Somewhere... In Love
Love is epic. Yes.
People love tragic love stories. It’s not love. But thinking. People actually think about the tragic ends of love stories. The thinking persists somewhere in the thoughts. They’ll be tucked away in the deep alleys of mind and slowly, forgotten on the surface. But like a nostalgia, the thoughts about that love story crop up and we start thinking about how sadly and tragically the love ended. To exploit this, yes exploit is the right word, artists create tragic love stories. Devdas and Parvathi. Laila and Majnu. Romeo and Juliet. Balu and Swapna. Just like the word and separates the names of the lovers here. One external factor. Not many or millions. Not Karan’s self-inflicted curses. The elders, or the class or the nature or an accident of the like of Titanic and iceberg.
With this in our minds, let’s take a look at the latest Bollywood offering with Laila Majnu.
Imtiaz Ali is known for love stories. Or rather love stories know Imtiaz Ali intimately. He explored love stories in various flavors like no other Bollywood filmmaker did in more than two decades. When he wanted to retell Laila Majnu, not eyebrows but hearts rose. Swelled in anticipation. Bang! Ekta Kapoor joined hands with him and the good ol’ Balaji Motion Pictures made the modern retelling of the epic love stories.
An epic love story
What make epic love stories? This is a valid question. In a world with a population of more than 800 crore human beings and at least 8 crores of people in the exact age for love to happen, we can have at least 4 crore love stories going on on the earth. This may be the reason for these many love stories. Some forgettable. Some unforgettable. But not all epic.
When the land blends with the love story, when the landscape speaks volumes about the love story, when the elements of nature witness the love story with bated breath, that makes the love story epic. Everything in the universe has a part in the happenings of the love story. At least as a silent witness. If the original Laila Majnu has the landscape of Desert and sand as the backdrop. This new breed of Laila Majnu story has Snow of Kashmir, the seasons of Kashmir as the backdrop. Epic I say. And you’ll say.
Now, we talk about the story
Tripti Dimri is Laila and Avinash Tiwari is Qais. Yes. It’s not Majnu the lover. It’s Qais who became Majnu, the crazy lover. Right.
The new setting for the story is present-day Kashmir, the land of eternal beauty and recent tragedy. Except for a roadblock or two spotted in the distance, Laila Majnu offers no signs of the autonomy movement and the omnipresence of the armed forces. Because it’s a fantasy world. Why corrupt it with grim reality? (The story itself becomes grim, no?) This setting provides numerous local actors, eye-watering locations and the suggestion that some of the battles here are of a deeply personal nature, where the prize is the freedom to love and marry.
The film flirts with allegory in the same manner that Laila deals playfully with her numerous admirers lining the streets of Srinagar as she makes her way to college every day. Laila’s attention soon becomes focused on Qais about whom tall tales of debauchery abound.
The myth comes before the man, and Laila’s college mates have all the details: Qais is a drunk, a wealthy layabout, a drug abuser, and a serial heart-breaker. Laila’s first encounter with Qais cannot be described as romantic. He is hanging out with his posse deep in the night and stops to take a leak in a place where Laila happens to be hiding with her sister. The ground beneath Qais gets wet and Laila’s sister screams, but the first shoots of a romance that will transform all their lives have been planted.
Laila and Qais set the Srinagar gossip grapevine on fire despite knowing that their fathers, Masood (played very well by Parmeet Sethi) and Ghulam (by the excellent Benjamin Gilani), are old and bitter rivals. Masood invokes family honor and uses emotional blackmail to force Laila to marry politician Ibban (The gravely looking good Sumit Kaul). Kais nurses his wounds in London and returns to Srinagar after a four-year period, setting into motion a downward spiral into tragedy and insanity.
A fresh spin on the source material
Laila and Majnu puts a fresh spin on the source material. There is a suggestion that Kais’s madness is both psychological and spiritual. When Laila seems well within reach, Qais is saddened rather than relieved. The idea of suffering in love has already trumped the actual experience, best captured by Irshad Kamil’s sublime lyrics in the song Aahista, composed by Niladri Kumar. You will be mine in good time, Laila sings. What is the point of this waiting, Qais wonders.
Ah! The lead pair
Avinash Tiwary is very effective as Qais, but his Majnu act is over-determined and overstretched. Qais as Majnu fails to evoke pity or empathy. The subtlety of the previous scenes is lost as Qais talks to himself, flaps about the place and terrorizes the local populace.
The freshness that the lead pair brings to the film and their characters, adds to the movie watching experience. They share a certain raw passion on the screen which is one of the key requisites for a story that throbs with passion and romance. The actors make it easy for you to believe in their story on the strength of their performances. When his love turns to insanity, Avinash Tiwary packs intensity into his performance. The film gets a bit overwhelming towards the end, but undoubtedly it’s a worthy debut. Tripti looks beautiful right through the film and she manages to explore the untamed side of her character to great effect. She is the find of the year. You can’t help but fall in love with her and her Laila. Enchanting little gem.
An innocence of Maine Pyaar Kiyaa proportions
The new-age Laila Majnu’s courtship has a Maine Pyar Kiya kind of touch and innocence to it which adds to its charm. The narrative has, as many as, 10 songs, but you never feel they’re too much. The tracks are weaved in seamlessly into the screenplay. Niladri Kumar and Joi Barua’s music is one of the highlights of the film. Towards the end, the film dips considerably, as it tries to wrap up the loose ends. You can’t get enough Tripti even after spending with Laila Majnu for more than 2 and half hours. Of course, Avinash.
Aren’t there any flaws with the film? Yes, there are two major problems with the film. Firstly, the editing. It could've easily been trimmed by a good 20 minutes. And secondly the initial portions of the second half. We understand she was asked to wait until the mourning period but who stopped them from being in touch via mobile phone. The film is set in current times so We doubt it was a problem.
Also, Laila, who was an integral part of the first half was a mere prop in the second half. To Majnu. Told through a typical male point of view, eh? Yes. The first half witnessed good old stalking from the hero. Feminists, take notice!
All in all, Laila Majnu is worth the time we spend traveling with these modern day guys. Tripti and Avinash give us the pay off with their amazing performances. They charm us with their personalities weaving around the characters. We laugh with them. We cry with them. We get irritated by Qais’ initial stalking of the heroine wink. As Imtiaz Ali himself said through Qais in the film, it ain’t love if there no madness to it. The result may vary. But this Laila Majnu will be talked about until at least the new film hits the screens next week. It doesn’t cheat you like Dhadak!
Laila Majnu Critic Reviews
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Laila and Majnu return, this time in modern avatars, and in the scenic Kashmir. Instead of sand and deserts, it's snow and more snow as the major natural element. Newcomers (not exactly new though) Avinash Tiwari and Tripti Dimri have joined the Imtiaz and Sajid Ali's team as the star-crossed lovers and the new age Laila and Majnu. The movie is receiving a generally positive initial response with the performances of the lead pair receiving praise.
Especially, Avinash Tiwari's performance as Majnu, yes his role has multiple shades as is the case with Qais/Majnu, and he nailed the role is a small word. Also, the music and the cinematography are considered the other highlights of the film. Laila Majnu is not just a simple retelling of the legendary love story, it is done with an epic scope. The selection of Kashmir as the backdrop rather than some barren lands is a masterstroke.
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What is Laila Majnu about?
Laila Majnu... when heard these words, a pair of love-struck couple appears before the eyes of us. They have become synonymous with love, romance, and an intense human bonding. According to the lead actor, as shown in the trailer, love is not love as long as there is no madness to it. The lead actress is introduced as a big flirt and the actor as a rich spoilt brat who loves women and drinking. The two are shown falling in love gradually, before everything starts to fall apart, like in any love story of epic proportions.
Ekta Kapoor and Imtiaz Ali's Laila Majnu promises an intense tale of romance. Set in Kashmir and staying true to the classic story of Laila Majnu, the film shows the couple put a brave front in the face of evil forces who want them to go separate ways. Attraction, love, separation, and tribulation are some of the themes that have been explored in the film, going by the trailer. Btw, Laila is played by Tripti Dimri and Majnu is Avinash Tiwari as Qais.
The director Imtiaz Ali had this to say about the naming of the film: I always knew that Laila Majnu is the only title that this film could go by. The star, the plot of the film is Laila Majnu. We have known the legendary lovers for years and years before any one of our names were known
What to expect from Laila Majnu?
A passionate romance
Laila and Majnu or rather Laila and Qais are star-crossed lovers. Their story is legendary. Their separation is heartbreaking. This movie, the present Laila Majnu is set in the modern day Kashmir, unlike the original legend. Qays and Layla fall in love with each other when they are young, but when they grow up Layla’s father doesn't allow them to be together. Qays becomes obsessed with her, and his tribe Banu Amir and the community gives him the epithet of Majnūn. This may not be the case with this film, but things go the same way as in the case of original Laila and Majnu. Laila and her crazy beloved.
Imtiaz Ali screenplay
Imtiaz Ali is a proven filmmaker. He had already written several romances albeit most of them are lighthearted. And who's better than him to tell the tale of Laila and Majnu to us? With films like Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar, and Cocktail, he had already narrated several flavours of love. Now, it is the turn of the classic love story.
Grand production values
Ekta Kapoor is one of the well-noted producers in the present day Bollywood. She is producing Laila Majnu on Balaji Motion Pictures in combination with PI Pictures. Ekta is not a novice. She is a veteran of the trade and knows how to bowl the audience over with grand visuals. From what little we have seen in the trailer, Laila Majnu is going to be a visual feast.
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