Meri Pyaari Bindu movie review: A nostalgic vibe overrides Ayushmann, Parineeti's flaky chemistry
The opening scene of Meri Pyaari Bindu was my favourite in director Akshay Roy’s film. The setting is Kolkata and no movie located in that city is complete without a visual reference to Durga.
Except this time it is a little quirky and quite original. It’s also the scene that introduces the narrator of the story – Abhimanyu Roy (Ayushmann Khurrana), a highly successful writer of horror-sex pulp fiction trying to break out of a three-year long writer’s block. His books, with titles such as ‘Dracula’s Lover’ and ‘Chudail Ki Choli’ are a guilty pleasure derided by critics who say ‘All his characters are negative, angry and horny like him’.
But when Abhi returns home to Kolkata after several years, he’s reminded of his life’s great, unrequited love story. The discovery of a long forgotten mix tape uncorks every memory associated with a friendship turned into a love story between Abhi and his neighbour, Bindu (Parineeti Chopra). Traversing two decades, from the 1980s to present day, the songs soundtrack the story of growing up, growing together and growing apart.
Bindu is the blueprint version of a contemporary Yash Raj heroine: somewhat shallow, rather selfish, effervescent and commitment-phobic. Abhi is a more staid and down to earth chap, working a bank job and dreaming of a happy married life in a 2BHK with two kids.
Suprotim Sengupta’s story follows these two characters and tries to see if their lives ever intersect. Do all love stories have happy endings?
Several familiar narrative devices are used – the style is a little bit Nora Ephron in parts. For instance, when as young adults Bindu and Abhi live in different geographies but maintain a correspondence which, over years, shrinks from pages to paragraphs. The use of background music and some scenes also remind one of the French film Amelie with an obvious hat-tip to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.
Like Allen, Sengupta too keeps the dialogues natural and Roy makes them fly fast, but the attempt to be glib and breezy does not really translate adequately into wit.
As with all such stories, you await the point of breakdown, it’s built up nicely – on the back of disappointment, frustration, a stark and honest look in the mirror by one the them.
As Abhi continues to tap away at his typewriter, bashing out page after page of his latest work, titled ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ you understand that at some level this narration is Abhi's rose tinted memory of Bindu, his muse and the mix tape serves as a catalyst for catharsis.
Sounds charming, and it could well have been. There’s no faulting Chopra or Khurrana for effort but somehow you never buy into their romance or passion. And this is in part owing to the absence of any scenes of honest, deep, thoughtful conversation and shared experiences.
The tonality also chops around a bit. The extended Bengali family is depicted as unnecessarily jovial, while Bindu’s Tamil father is too problematic. However to their credit Rajatava Datta, Aparajita Adhya and Prakash Belawadi bring in the required balance of comedy, empathy, concern and tragedy to their respective parts.
Nostalgia is one of the strongest characters in Meri Pyaari Bindu, but it’s unlikely that the target audience for this kind of frothy romcom would warm up to that, and those who would are perhaps seeking more heft.