Nitin Kakkar’s old school romance in the modern era of hurried relationships is refreshing but seems out of place
There was a time in Bollywood (and ofcourse reflecting the cultural contexts of society) when Sirf Tum starring Sanjay Kapoor and Priya Gill charmed you when the two fell in love only through hand written letters. Notebook attempts to take you to the sweet notion of love in its purest form, where the boy and girl never interact, forget even meeting each other. Is it possible, you would ask. The question seems legit especially considering the cultural and social media contexts of today, where its all about showing your face to each other, not the heart.
Hoping for a change, a former army officer Kabir (Zaheer Iqbal) takes a job as a teacher at a remote school in Kashmir. When he discovers a notebook from the previous instructor Firdaus (Pranutan Bahl), he soon finds himself falling in love with a woman he has never met.
The story by Shabbir Hashmi based on the film The Teacher’s Diary and screenplay by Darab Farooqui are effervescent in nature, with honest attempt to cater to people believing strongly in the feeling of love- ardent believers of true love. While this approach makes the target audience limited, it also makes the film stand out for the audacity the makers have shown. Its fresh and sweet, making complete effort to keep the smile all through.
At the outset, a story like this in the age of social media seems out of place but scores on its own merits. It seems like an unbelievable story but the detailed writing makes you invest with interest. However, such chunk of audience rooting for this one would be too small. Also, since the film involves young actors and is also targeted at the youth in order to capture their liking, it is more likely to find itself in trouble.
Innocence in the film is too much, more so with the presence of children. Elements are woven in the script that make you smile for the major part of the run time. But again, the minute you start finding plausibility in the plot, you’ll be left unsatisfied. The film asks you to believe strongly in the screenplay, and if at all you are able to do it (which is not a given), you’ll fall in love with the film.
Also a big reason why the film is captivating is the socio-political reference of Kashmir. Role of education and youth, how and under what circumstances can kids be brainwashed are thoughts conveyed well within the plot.
Debutante Zaheer Iqbal is good, could be better. Clearly in many scenes, he has blank face and almost the same expressions for a major portion of the drama. Having said that, he brings in a charming freshness in some sequences. At the end, you start associating him with the character too deeply.
Debutante Pranutan Bahl on the other hand rightly proves acting runs in her blood. She not only looks pretty, her screen presence is also confident. In fact, she suits the role perfectly and you start believing that she would be the same in real life as well.
Kudos to all the kids for bringing in the required zeal in the plot. You’re delighted to see the children on screen. All of them are extremely natural.
Vishal Mishra’s music is soothing and melodious. Even without a memorable song, the tracks do manage to lift you up while you are watching the film. Bhumbro still has the magic. The background score is very good, as it sets the tone right.
Cinematography by Manoj Khatoi is very good. The way Kashmir’s beautiful landscapes are shown, is brilliant. Also, since you’ve not seen such angle to Kashmir’s remote beauty, it attracts you more. You only wish the lens on Kashmir had something more to add to the script. Production design is picturesque and appealing giving your eyes real pleasure. In theaters especially, you’ll be sucked into the plot majorly because of fine production design.
Editing by Sachindra Vats is simple and straightforward. At some points, you also marvel at the cuts brought out.
It is a film for special audience- audience that is ready to experience slow and steady but effective take on love, audience that doesn’t need masala to dominate, audience that is patient and mature. It is indeed a mature film. Limited in approach, it will grow on the sensible ones. Watch it for true meaning of love- loving someone’s thoughts and ideas and personality, and not just the face.