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``Sur''... all about the teacher-student bond.

IT ISN'T often that routine fare is done a little differently. Tanuja Chandra's attempt at exploring human fallacies of extremely talented artistes has been given a fresh look. A simple story (Tanuja Chandra) of an extraordinary artiste looking for an heir to his talent and work, finding that heir, but not really being able to come to terms with the fact that the heir is better than him, comes across with spontaneity and warmth. Especially when you consider the fact that Tanuja Chandra has made senselessly harsh films earlier.

Pritish Nandy Communications Ltd/ Fish Eye Networks', "Sur", is like a mild song — moving with minimum ripples till the slightly clichéd end. But you certainly won't come out of the two-and-half-hour plus exercise feeling that it is yet another love story! While there is emphasis on love, it's more to do with the tenderness associated with talent and the spirit of inner harmony and music.

With his sad, droopy eyes, and unpretentious portrayal of the brilliant, but turbulent character that is Vikramaditya, Lucky Ali carries the film through. What makes it convincing is the fact that he employs none of the exaggerated gestures that would set him apart as an actor — he allows himself to be himself and go with the flow of the film.

He is the teacher in search of that perfect student who will succeed him. And while he agonises over the elusive heir, he happens to come across a voice from a small church in Goa. With tears in his eyes, Vikramaditya realises that the search ends with this voice — something that belongs to a young girl, who has no clue to the magnitude of her talent. She is Tina Marie! He sets about trying to convince Tina and her family — the sister who runs Rita's bar, a sweetly senile father and a couple of well wishers.

Overawed by the attention of the country's most sought after musical genius, Tina soon finds herself part of Sur, one of the most prestigious music schools nestling amongst the hills and serenity of the Nilgiris. But then all is not perfect in paradise. While she is a willing pupil hanging on to every word of her mentor, she is an individual with music bursting out of her soul.

Beautiful music that comes so naturally to her comes with much difficulty to the ageing legend. With small things comes the jealousy, till such a time when he even stoops to claim one of her tunes as his. Tina is broken, helpless and confused. She leaves, telling herself that she is no good and turns to the only thing she thinks will give her peace. Nunhood!

How she is made to follow her true vocation in life by the now chastised Vikramaditya, makes up the rest of the film. There are ideas in the film that will strike a chord in many. It is not beyond reality that some of the greatest teachers have felt threatened by their students. There is love for the student no doubt, but the sense of inevitability needs coming to terms with — all visualised without reducing situations to crass melodrama except in the end. There are some characters very well portrayed — you can empathise with them for their desperate attempts at success such as Achint Kaur as the chain smoking record company creative head and Divya Dutt as Tina's sister.

Newcomer Gauri Karnik as Tina is refreshing in parts — on occasions grating with her perkiness. In a film such as this, music (lyrics by Nida Fazli) plays a crucial part and while some of the songs are nice, brilliance eludes them.

M. M. Kreem has done better on the background score than in the songs — however "Aa Bhi Jaa" (sung by Lucky Ali and Sunidhi Chauhan) stands out for its melodic content. "Ave Maria" is moving for its raw beauty while the violin duet picturised on Tina and Vikramaditya, is dramatic.


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