When debutant director Luv Ranjan’s ‘Pyar Ka Punchnama’ hit the theatres, no one really expected a lot from the film. After all, it had six names who nobody had ever heard of, cast in a film that had a quirky title and directed by a filmmaker for whom it was the first time with the director’s hat. The film transcended all expectations, turned all six of the actors into overnight stars and ended up gaining the status of a cult.
From that talented a director, ‘Akaash Vani’ is almost a disappointment in parts. The story is fresh – no doubts about that, but it plays with clichés. So while there are moments which define it and turn it into a brilliantly made film, there are others which take away some parts of the same brilliance. ‘Akaash Vani’ has some scenes which can move even a heart of stone to tears, yet at others can make one wish it didn’t go on for so long. For at a runtime of 149 minutes, the film might find it hard to grab the twenty-first century youngster’s attention – whose love story the film tries to portray on celluloid. The redeeming factor of ‘Akaash Vani’ is the superb, solid performance by its lead cast – Nushrat Bharucha and Kartik Tiwari – take a bow.
When the Chandigarh ka launda meets the Dehradun ki ladki in the midst of an introductory session in St. Stephen’s College in Delhi, sparks fly and the two instantly click off. Vani (Nushrat Bharucha) embodies the customs and traditions that most small town girls come with. The same obedience and silent acceptances of hers place her happiness – and her life – at stake.
Akaash (Kartik Tiwari) plays a boy – an almost-spoilt brat who doesn’t hesitate to share desi daaru with a truck driver at a roadside dhaba – even before he is in college. Once within Vani’s embrace, he mellows down. Falling in love is pretty easy for these two youngsters, away from home, bound by some commonalities and some differences. They complement each other well, and what follows are some beautifully shot sequences in the snow-clad valleys of Manali and the Paranthewali gali of Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Three years pass away in the blink of an eye, and Akaash-Vani leave college to pursue their respective careers. While Akaash goes off to the UK for his higher studies, Vani – in a diabolical twist of fate, ends up as somebody else’s wife.
A complete about-turn from the character that she plays in ‘Pyar Ka Punchnama’, with her honest, stunning performance, Nushrat yet again proves that she is here to make it big. Through her performance, Bharucha makes sure she leaves one with moist eyes many a time during the course of the film. The story is more or less Vani’s, and Nushrat owns it with a brilliance that deserves a standing ovation.
Kartik, on the other hand, lives up to his image of the initially laid-back, and later rebellious guy, who can live in extreme agony but not let go of his ego. He delivers an ace mostly, though at times, one does end up comparing him to his debut role in ‘Pyar Ka Punchnama’. When it comes to emoting on celluloid, Tiwari is perfect. Faced with regret and trying to right wrongs, when both Nushrat and Kartik break down on a bench at the railway station, is perhaps the moment that stands out spectacularly in the film.
The supporting cast consisting of veteran actor Kiran Kumar, Sunny Nijjar and the like support the story ably. However, the weakest part of the story is the story itself, and the length. Many scenes could have been done away with and many others could have been shortened. In a world where people crave for crisp, short films, prolixity is not really the word of the day.
As far as art direction is concerned, there are scenes which are lifted straight out of a dream perhaps – and hats off to the brains behind it for the same! Cascading rivers, picturesque locales, snowfalls and hilltop cottages – Luv Ranjan makes poetry come alive on screen.
The film stands out in its make-believe moments. It makes you want to fall in love yet again, without really making a great impact on the mind – blame the tried and tested climax for that. But watch it for Nushrat and Kartik. The duo deserves an extra star for their performance. Three out of five from me for ‘Akaash Vani’.