Noor Review (NO SPOILERS): A Badshah Song Can’t Hide a Bad Ending

Well, shoot!  This was not a great movie.  After I spent all that time reading and thinking about the book, the film was just bleh.  Kanan Gill was still amazing, but the rest of it really wasn’t worth it.  Oh, and then the end credits song with Badshah and Diljit was fun too.

As I said in my post on the book, the story has 3 main thrusts.  The biggest and most interesting is the social criticism of Karachi society.  And then there is the feminist story of our heroine realizing she had everything she needed all along, she just didn’t believe in herself.  And finally there is the romance, her old friend Saad who keeps coming in and out of her life.  The book could do that, have multiple interwoven themes, because books can handle that kind of complexity.  A traditional 3 hour Indian film can handle that complexity as well, think of something like Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani which combined a love story with commentary on media with a story of political corruption.  But this is not a 3 hour movie, this is less than 2 hours.  And they really needed to just pick one of those themes and stick with it.

What’s frustrating is that there are still some good things in it!  The characters especially, our heroine and hero and friends and co-workers were all more well-rounded and developed than I am used to in Hindi film.  Some of the dialogue is kind of clever too, although it’s hampered by using soooooooooooo much English in a way that feels kind of awkward.  If it had been a light romance with a small career storyline interacting with it, using these fun characters and clever dialogue, it could have been a nice little movie.

The problem is, it has aspirations to be more than just a light romance.  Our heroine isn’t just a funny strong smart woman, she is supposed to turn into the voice of a generation kind of thing.  And her journey isn’t just about falling for a rogue and then finding true love with her old friend, it’s about some big understanding of what “journalism” is.  And the light dialogue and awkward young actors just can’t carry that kind of a story.

The director really really can’t carry that kind of a story.  Sunhil Sippy, so far as I can see has nothing else really on his filmography.  He is part of “the” Sippy family, which is presumably why he got the job.  And he is terrible! Stuff like, dialogue starting before the camera was seeing the actors’ faces.  Confusing editing, spacial relations that never quite made sense, and really no sense of how to direct the actors.  It wasn’t all super obvious, digital cameras can hide a multitude of sins, but the end result was everything feeling kind of “stagey”, and constantly being taken out of the story because you were trying to figure out who was in this scene, and where it was, and what time of day.

Sonakshi, unfortunately, can’t carry it either.  Or at least she can’t carry it all on her own.  I still haven’t seen Lootera (I know, I know), but I have been impressed with Sonakshi in other roles, including as recently as Akira.  But, going back to my Hindi Film 101 post on women in the industry, she just doesn’t have the ability to single-handedly save a film.  Not because she is a “bad actress” necessarily, but because she doesn’t have the knowledge or authority to say “Okay, we have to add a scene here, cut this scene, and fire the director” the way a more experienced star, with greater power in the industry, could.  That’s the flaw, not in her acting ability or anything else, but in her ability to serve as a check and balance on the director and force a course correction as necessary, the way the major male stars can.  Well, and Rani Mukherjee.  If someone like that had been leading this picture, it would have been fixed way back at the script stage.

You know who is wonderful in this movie?  Kanan Gill!  I continue to just love him.  He was the only one who seemed to be having a good time onscreen.  If you, like me, have a bit of a Kanan Gill crush, it might be worth watching just for that.  But otherwise, don’t bother.

(How can you not love him?)

 

Oh, but if you do see it, make sure to stay for the end credits, where they throw in a Badshah item song for no reason at all.  Well, besides the obvious reason that Badshah is wonderful!  And also Diljit Dosangh.  I’m assuming that this was a last minute attempt to go hard after the north Indian audience, because the southern one is going to be a total write off thanks to Baahubali 2.

 

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8 thoughts on “Noor Review (NO SPOILERS): A Badshah Song Can’t Hide a Bad Ending

  1. Pingback: Noor Review (SPOILERS): Fails in the Most Important Character, the City of Bombay – dontcallitbollywood

  2. I was all like: No, I won’t see that one, till you wrote that there is Kanan Gill in it!! 😉 Now I seriously consider give it a look, or two

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    • He is so wonderful! But he isn’t in it nearly enough, I would recommend waiting until it is on DVD or streaming and just fast-forwarding to his scenes.

      On Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 1:24 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I haven’t read the book, and never planned to see the movie. But one thing puzzled me from the time the film was announced: In the book, the setting of Karachi was supposed to be extremely important. I couldn’t see how they could just transpose the story to Mumbai. It’s not just about being in a big city, in Karachi you also have the social and political (and terrorist) aspects that are just not there in Mumbai. Do you have anything to say on that score?

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    • I get into it a little more in the spoilers review.

      But generally, yeah, that’s a big problem with the film. They make an attempt to deal with it, to change the specific issues of Karachi and the serious tone that gave to our heroines’ job into specific issues of Bombay. But they land in this terrible no man’s land of going too far for us to just laugh it off, but not far enough or exact enough for us to take it seriously. Basically, it feels like it was written by someone who had read a bunch of think pieces and analysis of the problems in Bombay, but didn’t really have a feel for the city. There’s talk of real issues like the lack of bathrooms, the unsafeness of the local trains, bulldozing of slums, that kind of thing. But there is no clear solution given, or blame placed, for any of it. It ends up feeling kind of like it is exploiting these real issues to make us watch the film.

      Whereas, in the book, it felt like the other way around. Like this is a frustrated veteran journalist in Kerachi who can’t get anyone to read about the real issues facing the city, so she is writing a romance novel to trick us into learning about them.

      Does that make sense?

      On Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 1:41 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. And you really need to see Lootera pronto, not just for Sonakshi, but also for Ranvir. The Ranvir of that film is someone you’d want to be stuck in an elevator with. 🙂

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    • Ummm…yeah. No excuses on not seeing Lootera! It really is a beautiful film with wonderful, sedate and nuanced performances by both Sonakshi and Ranveer.

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