Saturday, June 18, 2005

Parineeta: A Star is Born

Well, maybe. Vidya Balan, who is the heart and soul of the new film Parineeta, has a very traditional Indian look. That is to say, she actually has 'Indian' features, in contrast to most of today's Bollywood teenyboppers. Will there be more roles for Vidya Balan?

Overall, Parineeta is as classy a Hindi film as we can expect to see this year. It has great music and nice filmic allusions, including the famous Sharmila Tagore train from Aradhana ("Mere Sapno Ki Rani"), and a brilliantly kitschy big-band number with Rekha ("Kasisi Paheli Zindgani"). It's also a thoughtful adaptation of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay's novel -- nicely trimmed to maintain audience interest at two hours long. Parineeta reminds one a good deal of Devdas -- both movies are adaptations of Saratchandra novels -- but the melodrama in Parineeta is much lighter than the Devdas story. The central focus here is music, not alcoholism or 'courtesan' melodrama.

I would recommend Parineeta, especially to readers who don't watch many Hindi films. It might help a little if you know how fabulous Rekha was in her hey-day, but it's not required.

(Sidenote: An interesting article on the 'Devdas phenomenon' is at the University of Iowa. And Poonam Arora has written a serious, scholarly article on "Devdas, India's Emasculated Hero: Sadomasochism and Colonialism")


Ms. World said...

This may be a dumb question but I don`t care anymore. What`s a `very traditional Indian look`? Balan doesn`t look like Preity Zinta who is very Anglo looking to me (I heard she is part English.) or those Kapoor chicks but she doesn`t look like a white girl either. Is it her eyes or nose that is traditionally Indian looking?

8:39 PM  
Amardeep said...

Ms. World,

Not a dumb question -- actually I think it's mainly in her nose (which is big; most current Indian movie stars have little button noses these days).

But it also has a bit to do with the way she wears her hair and the outfits they have her wearing in this film. So my observation may be rendered invalid if in the next film she cuts her hair and wears the usual 'modern girl' outfits.

7:50 AM  
Genealogy Spice said...

I enjoyed Parineeta as well. The acting and the backdrop were the main plus points for me. However, I wish the screenplay could have been stronger...not that it weakened the film but a tighter screenplay would have enhanced the depth and sensitivity of acting that each actor brought to his/her character.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous said...

I also enjoyed the film very much. In fact I watched it two times and wouldn't mind watching a few more times. To my mind, this film is very well made unlike other commercial Hindi films. Vidya Balan is simply superb. She looks quite a bit like Madhabi Mukherjee of Charulata by Satyajit Ray. It would be interesting to see the tyoe of roles Balan plays in her future films. From what I read from her interviews, she does not plan to act in films that will tarnish her Sati Savitri innocent image she has created of herself amongst viwers of Parineeta.

10:12 AM  
Atta Girl said...

I found Rekha to be a big showdown. The costume/ hair style /make up, all combined made her look old & quite shoddy. I felt that the glam appeal she genrally exudes was completely missing. Though, i definitely liked the song!

12:05 PM  
Vidya krishnan said...

Parineeta has shook me!!! No wonder I have opened this website and am posting my views !!!! It was a wonderful performance by Saif(serious and natural)!!!
Vidya Balan looks great in this movie...She definetely has that charm and grace in her which is very natural. I loved her expressions and actions.... I would love to watch this movie as many times as possible..... Hope Vidya Balan continues to keep up such wondeful performances in future tooo..

1:44 PM  
Umair Muhajir said...

Interestingly, when I inform North Indians and Pakistanis that Ms. Balan is a native of Kerala, the first reaction is typically disbelief...

8:17 AM  
Anonymous said...

I don't want to start turf wars. But, I think a correction is in order. Actually, Vidya Balan is a Tamilian. She belongs to the iyer community from Palghat (known as Palghat iyers) in the Tamil Nadu/Kerala border.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous said...

im not indian but i love watching indian movies cos its fun . but this is by the the best hindi movie iv ever seen .the music is first class and the performances r great . i think saif has always been one of the greatest actors , he was just as great in ek haseena thi but ppl didnt notice. vidya balan is truly amazing .here's wishing her all the best!!

5:00 PM  
vidya balan's fan said...

WoW. vidya balan had my heart racing. she probably made my heart skip a few beats too. the great looks, the expressions, the style... everything about her is enchanting
saif came out with a stellar performance too, like he's consistently been doing in his second innings (dil chahta hai, ek haseena thi, kal ho na ho, hum tum)
it sure is a very very well-made film, along with great music
people from calcutta will definitely love this movie all the more, with the sights of victoria memorial and howrah bridge, and the mention of trincas and flurys

6:36 PM  
Anonymous said...

I loved 'Parineeta'. Absolutely great film, when someone asked me to watch it, I was rather reluctant, but it is fabulous. Vidya Balan is brilliant.

Niranjali, UK

4:01 PM  
ashvin said...

I just watched Parineeta yesterday and I agree. I haven't seen many Bollywood movies (and haven't really liked the ones I have) but really liked this one and especially Vidya Balan's performance. I'm surprised she isn't a huge star already. I'm going to check out more VVChopra-related films now.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous said...

Saif is brilliant in this film. But the director's style is also amazing. I was hooked when the Soona Soona song started, where Saif had the tear in his eyes and the girl is on the swing.
That's the stuff great movies are made of. I wish they would have kept Sanjay Dutt out of it. He is soooo lame, I can't believe he was a part of this project.

1:53 PM  
Saroja said...

Yeah, Very Indian. In looks, yes. But in (self-) definition, most. The stereotypical image of the Indian Woman- ravishing looks, beautiful voice, fortitude, bold-yet-blushing in love, and yet, like the true Indian woman, identified as 'Parineeta', 'the married woman', or to be more precise, 'the woman claimed' (neeta means 'taken'as in take along/carry an object). No wonder then that she endures with apparent self-respect the abuses of the man she is bound to by the sanctity of marriage. And yes, she will be rewarded, when he gathers proof of her loyalty from other people and when he chooses to rebel. Rebellion is essentially the man's job with the woman looking on as in the last scene of the film. (I wonder what would have happened if in the fashion of all Bollywood films, fortune had not prevented the 'anhoni' of a wrong marriage on time!)

Very, very Indian indeed. No wonder the 'other woman' is dressed in more 'modern' attires and has to be a vamp so as to ensure all sympathy is directed towards the heroine suffering in silence. A more simplistic differentiation of good/evil, Indian/modern cannot exist.

Very Indian indeed in the way we keep finding infinite avtaars for Sita, the only 'Indian' woman.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous said...

Correction to SG:

According to Capeller's Sanskrit-English Dictionary:

pariNIta n. marriage; f. {-tA} a married wife (lit. leading and led round, scil. the sacrificial fire).

pariNItA literally means one who leads or is led around the sacrificial fire; with the feminine ending denotes a married woman. SG should produce a reference to show that it means "the woman claimed" or "taken".

It is also incorrect to denigrate and narrow the vast Indian tradition by claiming that Sita is 'only Indian woman'. It is true that, due to the Indian reverence for self-sacrifice (as opposed to the Western exaltation of violence, selfishness and greed), Sita has always had a special place in the affection of Indians. However, even Sita is not as one-dimensional as you claim. See "Traditional Female Moral Exemplars in India by Madhu Kishwar"

6:14 AM  
Maya said...

Thank you all for this insightful commentary. I recently saw "Parineeta" at a press screening for the 24th San Francisco International Film Festival and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see it since my schedule during the festival would not have allowed it. All in all I went with the film though, as Derek Elley states in his "Variety" review, I found the ending "overcooked." Notwithstanding, it was a pleasure to write it up for The Evening Class, wherein I had to mention this informed discussion:

2:51 PM  
Maya said...

Excuse me, that should be the 24th San Francisco International ASIAN AMERICAN Film Festival. My apologies.

2:53 PM  
Maya said...

I'm thinking in spurts here this morning. Excuse me. I wanted to ask those better informed than me about the song sung in the nightclub by, I believe, Rekha. I could swear it's Oscar Hammerstein and Harry Ruby's "A Kiss To Build A Dream On." Am I the only one who hears that?

2:57 PM  
Anonymous said...

You're correct. The original came crashing back when I heard this song.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous said...

Parineeta by chopra is beautiful creation of classic story. Vidya is so great and natural
in her expression( honestly I have seen a great
natural actress after long time, all others just look so artificial and dumb ). I have
seen it 4 times and dont mind to see it more times. The music is so beautiful. It is far better than devdas.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous said...

i jus love her.... how i wish i could marry her!!!!!!!!


1:05 PM  
sbkt said...

". It has great music and nice filmic allusions, including the famous Sharmila Tagore train from Aradhana"

Also the tribute to Ray with the 'Phool phool bhawra dole' song...shot v similarly to how Ray shot the same song in Charulata...

5:01 PM  
Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with rest of the bloggers..........parineeta is an absolutely stunning, a movie i hav already watched 3 times and wud definetely not mind watching again....vidhya balan looks like the epitome of indian beauty with not just ravishing looks and attire but also with her ease at the potrayal of a charector that is strong in virtue and charactor ( not a silent sufferer) yet not aggressive ...
I must admit that i was mesmerised by both her beautiful looks and flawless acting skills that i wud vouch that she is the best ardently...but not anymore....after all the other movies she's done....she too looks ordinary to me!

5:19 AM  
Anonymous said...

Nice movie! Vidya is a sweetheart!

9:28 AM  

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