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Posted at: Sep 7, 2018, 8:30 PM; last updated: Sep 7, 2018, 10:13 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: LAILA MAJNU

Here’s to power of love

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Here’s to power of love
A still from Laila Majnu

Nonika Singh

Duniya hai, duniyadaari hai and where does love fit in the humdrum of life? Clearly, you need to transcend the mundane to achieve the sublime. On this premise are based all great love legends, one being Laila Majnu, a classical Arabian romance story on the lines of Romeo Juliet, Heer Ranjha and many more. Of course, in the current day and age to recreate the timelessness of the legendary lovers can never be an easy ballgame. Yet, debutant director Sajid Ali and his team of debutant lead pair (Tripti Dimri and Avinash Tiwari) do manage to capture the power of love and passion of star-crossed lovers. 

By placing the film in beauteous Kashmir, Ali does tread an uneasy ground. The surrealism that their love requires couldn’t possibly have found a better background. But he is on thin ice as he rids the Valley of the political upheaval despite Laila’s family having political connections. One key character Ibban (Sumit Kaul) is an MLA. However, both the director and the writer, which is his big brother Imtiaz Ali, refuse to be drawn into the vortex of politics or any such volatile issue that plagues the Kashmir of today. So, we see neither the shadow of gun nor violence. 

Kashmir, for the director-writer duo is merely a beauteous backdrop. Of course, to be fair Ali isn’t swayed by it and the prime focus remains on these two lovers alone.

The first half shows shades of wooing. Laila (Tripti Dimri) a college student is both coquettish and flirtatious. Qais (Avinash Tiwari) is flamboyant and charming. Their love begins perchance as Kaiz says; our story has been preordained and predestined. The feminists may object to how he follows Laila day and night obsessively. But when confronted by her he is ready to vanish and let her search for him instead. The villain here like in all time-tested love tales is the family enmity and rivalry. He proposes, Laila’s father (Parmeet Sethi) egged by Ibaan (Kaul in fine form) disposes.

Post interval, we get to see another deeper shade of love tinged by love and longing. Break-up in this world is not just another word but literally breaking down from within.  Why Qais transforms into a Majnu, especially when their union is just around the corner, might seem a trifle inexplicable to the instagram fed, insta-love generation.

Not that the story always runs a smooth course, yet despite the hiccups, there is honesty in story-telling. The honesty of the characters too touches your heart, especially when Laila says ‘woh aage nikal gaya hai now I too need to join him’. 

Once again we learn how true love needn’t be consummated on mortal earth and is all about moving beyond the mortal limits of love. The actors bring freshness to their parts. Though Avinash Tiwary is far more intense and brings alive the mad frenzy of Majnu with poignant soulfulness, Laila is in fine fettle too, both as the enchantress and also later as a woman hopelessly in love. So, if you are a hopeless romantic, go for it. This may not be the greatest love story ever told but is a befitting requiem not just to Laila Majnu and other tragic love tales but love as  yearning and quest too.  

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