‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ review: Man Ki Baat

This Friday, as I stepped out of the cinema hall, chewing the mental cud, so to speak, wondering what to make of director Akshay Roy’s Meri Pyaari Bindu (My Lovely Bindu), I was ambushed by representatives of a newly launched TV news channel, and before I could say “No swami”, I found myself in their studio, part of a panel discussion to weigh in about this feature. What follows is a faithful transcript of what never transpired:

Arnab Goswami (AG): Welcome to prime vocals time on Republic TV! Today’s top, earth shattering event was the release of Meri Pyaari Bindu!! And with me in the studio to discuss this important filmic event are: Shashi Tharoor, the man who, when he speaks, manufactures new editions of dictionaries…

Shashi Tharoor (ST): The predicate of a nuanced sentence can often be misconstrued as a lanuginous effort to conceal broader paradigms.

AG: What the….

Channel producer: Arnab, family channel, family channel. And no using The Nation Wants to Know!

AG (clears throat): Ahem! Also on the panel is famous film critic and part-time CM of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal….

Arvind Kejriwal (AK): I will make Delhi a corruption-free, tax-free, free-for-all city.

AG: Don’t get me started, AK! (Turning to me): And you! What’s your name?!

Me: Erm…

AG: Excellent!! Now, the nation and station still wants to know what you thought of Meri Pyaari Bindu! Go for it! Argue! Kill each other!! Give me red, gimme ratings!

ST: A nugatory exercise in pierian pretense that serves as a soiled napery, dishing out at best a tatterdemalion.

AK: I think the first half was tampered…er…tempered with comic relief and good songs.

Me: I agree with aap, AKji.

AG: Can you elaborate, Erm?

Ayushmann - a howrah bridge too far
Ayushmann Khurrana: a Howrah Bridge too far

Me: Director Akshay Roy and writer Suprotim Sengupta do keep the first half zippy and bouncy. Drawing in the travails of pulp fiction writer Abhimanyu Roy or Abhi (Ayushmann Khurrana)…

AK: Mujhe abhi batao, how many n’s, r’s and a’s in the hero’s name? (Cough, cough…)

Me (ignoring the pun): …as he struggles to churn out a new novel, hounded by his publisher and mother (Aparajita Auddy)…

AK: Can you speak louder, you’re not auddyble! He he he!

Me (getting quite the expert at ignoring pun-dits): …the former, for a book, and the latter for Abhi to get married. It is here that the director slips in Abhi’s past. Of his childhood crush-turned-adult-candy, Bindu Shankarnarayanan (Parineeti Chopra).

In flashback-and present cuts, you see how Abhi’s love for Bindu evolves – as they traipse across cities – Kolkata (where it all begins), Bangalore, Mumbai, and manage to keep in touch –more serendipitously than by choice.

AK: He’s smitten, she’s kitten.

ST: The fallacious references to felinous predators is semi-felonious.

AG: Go on…not you, ST.

parineeti and ayushmann - love's being up in the air
Parineeti Chopra, Ayushmann Khurrana: love’s everything being up in the air

Me: This part of the movie is rather enjoyable – especially the lovely panorama of Kolkata and references to sepia-tinted music – using O.P. Nayyar (Sun Sun Sun Zaalima, Aar Paar and Aaiye Meherbaan, Howrah Bridge), Sachin Dev Burman (Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, Aradhana), Rahul Dev Burman (Duniya Mein Logon, Apna Desh), Jaidev (Abhi Na Jaao, Hum Dono) and Bappi Lahiri (Koi Yahaan and Yaad Aa Raha Hai, Disco Dancer). But it is Pancham’s Do Naina Aur Ek Kahaani (Masoom) that tears you up, more showcasing the composer’s startling ability to be relevant across multiple timelines than any special, brilliant spark on the director’s part.

AG: Looks like you got fed up here, Erm! Why, the nation still wants to know, Bennett like Coleman!

ST: Setting a widdershins path to a linear course employing munificent expositions ultimately glissandos, giving rise to monotone.

AK: I think someone tampered with the script here.

Me: After sometime, this directorial device does get a little tiresome. For, how long can you encapsulate the couple’s life journey into a nostalgic twirl of a Sony CHF 90-minute cassette? And that’s the dilemma that the director faces, and can never resolve, seemingly getting stuck, much like the CHF tape. Which is why, by the time the titular Meri Pyaari Bindu (Padosan) song comes in, even Pancham cannot revive the proceedings.

Ayushmann and Parineeti - Marine Lining
The lead pair’s the silver (Marine) Lines in director Akshay Roy’s Meri Pyaari Bindu

AG: Why, Erm, why? The nation still, and still more wants to know, yet still.

AK: I think the script was tampered, EVM ki qasam.

AG: AK, if you were the owner of a diaper-manufacturing company, do you know what you’d have named it?

Me: Cough Ke Bichade?

AG: Shut up, Erm. He’d have called it Tampers.

ST: Fatuous postulations about flatulence tend to flocculate one’s jocular perceptions.

Me: To come back to you, Arnab, just as ST’s complex sentences get repetitive and don’t take this discussion forward, so does this playlist-trick flounder. And there’s a bigger problem.

AK: I have proof about the tamper…

AG: Erm!!! Go on!!

Me: It’s the whole characterization of the lead pair. Ostensibly narrated and seen from the POV of Abhi…

AK: Man ki baat! Even this our PM copied!

Me: …the movie doesn’t care to explain the hero’s obsession with Bindu, nor does it tell us why she behaves the way she does. If director Roy wanted to portray her as a manipulative, self-serving woman, then, instead of ramifying into multiple sitcom situations – including those with Abhi’s friends – he ought to have built the second half around this angle, developing the story and the couple’s journey based on some sense of character-dimensions. Unfortunately, he doesn’t. Which is why, when the movie ends, you feel strangely dissatisfied, the effort to be different straining your credulity and patience.

AG: What about the actors? Tell me! Tell the nation!! The nation doesn’t want a no, it most certainly and unambiguously wants to know!!!

AK: If Abhi couldn’t act, he’d have been neta instead of abhi-neta! Ha ha ha!

ST: The acute ability to…

Me (hastily): Ayushmann Khurrana is the leading light, pitching in what could possibly be of one his best ever performances. His Bengali-lad portrayal is subtle and he shines even in the corniest scenes, beguiling you with an irresistible, goofy-eyed, sensitive pitch. As Bindu, Parineeti is all snazz and spunk, rising far above the half-baked script she’s handed; when she’s energetic and strong, she soars, making you smile; when she does break down in a scene with her father, she’s heartbreakingly good. And behind the mike, as she sings those classics and the Maana Ke Hum number, she’s surprisingly well-toned and mature.

And as her father, the worryingly-slightly-gaunt looking Prakash Belawadi is good, but to me, has a thankless, one-dimensional role. As Abhi’s parents, Aparajita Auddy and Rajatava Dutta are simply marvelous, lending an air of winsome naturalness to their roles.

ST: Throughout the history…

AG: Go on, go on Erm! We don’t have time!!

Me: Sachin-Jigar’s score is good, but to me the Pancham-ish Ye Jawaani Teri is a winner…

AG: Okay, that’s it then! Final words from the panel!

ST: I haven’t been allowed to speak at all. This entire show has been an exasperating farrago of manipulated distortions and misrepresentations, leading one to believe that the host wants his panel to obfuscate and be obsequious.

Me: Meri Pyaari Bindu is indeed a farrago – thank you for that word, ST – ultimately landing into limbo-land, leaving you to your own devices, and not in a very happy sort of way.

AK: Meri Pyaari Bindu? Humph!! I was talking about Baahubali 2 all along.

Meri Pyaari Bindu is rated UA (parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years).  There’s drinking and some wink-wink references to sex. 

Meri Pyaari Bindu
 Akshay Roy Running Time 1h 57 min
Writer Suprotim Sengupta
Stars Parineeti Chopra, Ayushmann Khurrana, Aparajita Auddy, Rajatava Dutta, Prakash Belawadi
Genres Drama, Musical, Romance

Watch the trailer of Meri Pyaari Bindu here: