'Qarib Qarib Singlle' review: The odd couple

I have always found something oddly riveting about a couple of “near-romantic” on-screen personae of Irrfan Khan — in Life In A…Metro and Piku. On the one hand there are SRK’s charming Raj and Rahul, on the other are Khan’s unconventional Monty and Rana; at first sight any modern, sophisticated urban woman’s worst nightmares — loud, uncouth and utterly lacking in social graces. Monty and Rana get full blown in Qareeb Qareeb Singlle in the form of Yogi — the one with lecherous eyes, rough flirtatious ways and a stalker like air. And despite all that, so attractive.

Perhaps it’s the ready wit and repartee, the self-deprecating humour or the inherent decency lurking underneath the coarse exterior. Or simply the “otherness” of the guy — the outsider you feel at one with, but with no strings attached.

Qarib Qarib Singlle carries the mismatched couple — the woman not being able to stand the guy — situation of Metro… and Piku but with such immense freshness, fun and aplomb that it leaves you smiling all the way. And the smile creeps up again and again when you look back at the tale of two strangers — Yogi and Jaya — meeting through a dating app and going on a journey together to Dehradun, Rishikesh, Delhi, Alwar, Jaipur and Gangtok to revisit their past, and, in the process, discover themselves and each other.

The man here is older and seemingly “formed”, the woman is younger and in the process of “formation”. One is delusional about his past — that former girlfriends still hold a candle for him; other is holding on to things, memorialising a dead husband in a password. The film is about letting go and reconciling with what was, to move on to what could be in the future.

Qarib Qarib Singlle
  • Director: Tanuja Chandra
  • Starring: Irrfan Khan, Parvathy, Neha Dhupia, Isha Sharvani, Brijendra Kala
  • Storyline: Two polar opposite individuals meet through a dating app, are thrown together on a journey in which they discover themselves and each other
  • Run time: 2 hours 8 minutes

QQS is a happy confluence of many things besides an absolutely entrancing, candid and un-self-conscious Khan who makes acting seem utterly easy and effortless. Parvathy, as Jaya, holds her own confidently with her fresh, earthy, believable, un-heroine like air, complete with the glasses and the hair tied up in a bun.

The original story penned long back by Kamna Chandra is hearteningly progressive in a casual than stated way — being a widow is no big deal, as is a man and woman splitting cost of a trip. It is updated to the present and becomes a delightful and charming watch under the baton of her own daughter, Tanuja Chandra. But the takeaway is the dialogue. Gazal Dhaliwal’s lines are not the “pick out and quote” sorts but make the conversations between Yogi and Jaya feel so real that one is reminded of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy.

Here too the focus essentially remains on the two (despite the many marginal characters). Both are fleshed out well as individuals without necessarily explaining every detail about them.

There is the hilarious putting down of “cheap” men on the Internet by Khan which is followed by an unexpectedly romantic “aap ki ungliyan khoob bolti hain (your fingers talk a lot)” talk with Jaya. What else do you do but smile? And then that disarmingly romantic morning chat between her in the bed and him on the couch, in the same room, fully clothed. No, not quite what you’d imagine.

In DDLJ, love happened because Raj helped Simran board the train in the nick of time. Yet again, it found a happy end with the boarding of the train. In QQS, the journey of love is all about missed flights and trains. The end also is about barely making it — signifying the arrival to the next stage of a relationship, about continuity than a closure. Where would Yogi and Jaya go from there? There are endless possibilities for endless stories. So do we have the start of a romantic franchise here? I will surely buy the tickets for the sequel(s).

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 6:13:38 PM |

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