Pradeep Sarkar's third outing, 'Lafangey Parindey', may have a rather gritty setting and seem far removed from his previous two films, but the director retains his ability to impact and move his audiences, though in not such an ambitious manner as in ''Parineeta or 'Laaga Chunari Mein Daag'. 'Lafangey Parindey' is a conventional love story, told well.
The other surprise that the film springs is in the performance of its lead players, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone. Neil, who arrived with a bang, was quite a disappointment in his last few films, like 'Jail', for instance. But he seems to have really worked hard on this film even though he may not actually look like a 'tapori' that he plays in the movie. The film also sees a much improved Deepika, as well. It's probably the Sarkar touch!
That touch extends to the skillful manner in which he tells this rather simple tale which is set in a typical Mumbai chawl. The film may not be quite flawless as one is wont to expect from a seasoned player like Sarkar, but he manages to pull it off quite well.
'Lafangey Parindey' is the love story of Nandu (Neil) and Pinky (Deepika). Nandu, or one shot Nandu as he is known, makes his living in the boxing ring, where he deals with lethal blows blindfolded. Nandu is patronised by the local don, played by Piyush Mishra.
Pinky, on the other hand, is a very ambitious young girl who works in a mall by day and has dreams of making it big with her dancing skills on roller skates. A terrible accident, which leaves Pinky blind, yokes both their lives together.
The love story unfolds and plays out in the second half of the movie, while in the first half, the director lays out the premise superbly. The introduction scenes of both characters has been done really well and one is immediately hooked onto the narrative. The accident, which is repeated from the perspective of both characters is among the many engaging scenes that Sarkar manages to create in the movie as also the skating sequences, specially towards the climax, which take place in a television reality show.
One of the very good things about this film is that the director manages to keep things simple and sticks to his trajectory, without shooting aimlessly. The focus is Nandu and Pinky and 'Lafangey Parindey' is their story from the beginning to the end.
The only place where the film seems to meander a bit is the sub plot about the investigation. But the director manages to tie that up quite well into the climax of the movie. It gives the necessary emotional impetus to the confrontation scene between Nandu and Pinky, when she discovers that he is the man responsible for the accident.
Of course, the confrontation scene could have been raised to a higher emotional pitch, but probably the director was handicapped here slightly by his actors, neither of who is known to be a great performer.
The choice of Neil for the role of a 'tapori' may have seemed like a drawback but the actor tries really hard to get into the physical aspect of the role. He may not fit the bill of a 'tapori' appearance wise, but he gets the emotional graph of his character absolutely right and turns in a solid performance.
Deepika, seems to be getting better with every film that she does and is very refreshing as Pinky. She seems much more comfortable in the emotional scenes and carries them off quite well.
Among the other actors, the one who stands out is Mishra. He is just amazing as the local 'satta' don. Kay Kay Menon is bumped off to early into the film and hardly gets an opportunity to do anything. Among the many 'tapori' friends of Nandu and Pinky, Namit Das is quite impressive.
The film's music has been composed by R Anandh, and is unconventional but quite pleasing. However, it's not the kind of score which is likely to get very popular. The film's production values are quite impeccable.
The detailing, the cinematography, the choice of colours, the characters, everything is exactly what one would expect from Sarkar. He may not have made a great film, but he has definitely redeemed his reputation as a skilled storyteller. With 'Lafangey Parindey', he has managed to keep his audiences hooked onto the story of Nandu and Pinky and one comes back feeling quite satisfied.