Writers Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali’s Laila Majnu begins with “THE STORY LIVES ON…”. In the age of romantic comedies, retelling of classic timeless story in the creative hands of Imtiaz Ali may resonate the present generation. Ali Brothers admire and respect Laila-Majnu while revamping into the contemporary Kashmir, bringing alive a true romance on the cinematic canvas. Nevertheless, the film shares a lot of similarity with Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar (2011) and Tamasha (2015), but Laila Majnu sparkles because true love demands a mystical madness.
Set in Kashmir, Laila (Tripti Dimri) and Qais (Avinash Tiwary) from rival political families fall in love which Qais denotes as “written destiny”. Somewhere down the line, the destiny contradicts the sprouting romance and instead, insanity grows owing a separation. Laila Majnu is divided into qualitative halves, like Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat (2016). First half comes with basic storytelling, but the fact, it is a passionate storytelling makes it genuine. It slowly escalates feelings and the second half is literally the divine intervention of romantic madness – a conspiracy of Imtiaz Ali in disguise(?). Kashmir brings the romance a cozy atmosphere, its natural healing turns the film into a mystical enchantment as wild as it can get leaving you in splits. It stands a metaphor, where Qais wants to reach beyond the mountains – he reaches beyond neuroticism, into the delusional insane world of love and longing.
Avinash Tiwary as Qais lingers on the shades of Imtiaz’s own characters, Jordan from Rockstar and Ved from Tamasha. Avinash Tiwary gets better with intensity as the film grooves on doomed romance. His chemistry with Tripti Dimri is somewhat electrifying, there’s even an almost “Agar Tum Saath Ho” scene which triggers the connect in the second half. Irshad Kamil’s lyrical ballads come with simplicity which instantly touch upon the soul, he is the real storyteller. While I found the song narrative stronger, which syncs the romantic narrative and soaks into the soul only in the second half. The choreography would’ve been more in-sync but Sajid Ali resists for rawness.
Aashista brings longing-belongingness to the romance, the wait turns insane while Tum greets with love for beloved. Hafiz Hafiz denotes the lover serving the romance and the world where Irshad Kamil pens, “In the world, stay worldly, listen to all, don’t say anything, and take gossip, stones, taunts and accusations by tolerating them like all of us – with a laugh”. And O Meri Laila is the essential love ballad which craves personally “I found you like a forgotten coin in a childhood kurta”, whose placement stunned. Undoubtedly, one of the finest music albums of 2018 – it reminds me of A R Rahman’s Rockstar. Music Directors Niladri Kumar and Joi Barua’s brilliant soundtrack captivates the timeless romance and souls.
Laila Majnu is a retelling of timeless classic which offers a true Bollywood romance with its glorious flaws – is achingly heartfelt. And the unrequited love for Cinema lives on…
Release: 07 September, 2018
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