After directing Snip more than a decade ago, Sunhil Sippy returns to the director's chair to make Noor, a coming of age drama, that has Sonakshi Sinha in the lead. It is an adaptation of Pakistani author Saba Imtiaz's book 'Karachi, You're Killing Me!', which has been tailored to suit the Mumbai milieu. With Noor releasing this Friday, the big question on everyone's mind is - will this movie turn out to be Sonakshi Sinha's Queen. Or for the matter, even Dear Zindagi? Check out our review below to find out…
What's it about
We are introduced to Noor Roy Chaudhary (Sonakshi Sinha) on her 28th birthday. A journalist at a prominent news channel run by a former war journalist Shekhar (Manish Chaudhari), Noor has issues about everything - be it her life, her body, the lack of boyfriend, her house and the way her career is heading. She has two besties in Zaara (Shibani Dandekar) and Saad (Kanan Gill), the only two people she feels care about her existence. She wants to do serious research-driven journalism, but her boss sends her off to interview Sunny Leone, that she screws up with her lackadaisical attitude. Taking a break from her job after that, she meets Ayan (Purab Kohli), a reputed photographer, and starts a whirlwind romance with him. When she returns to her job, her boss gives her a serious assignment, that leads her to discover an organ-harvesting scam through her maid Malati (Smita Tambe). However, thanks to her over-zealousness and oversight, she screws that up too and the repercussions she faces change her outlook towards life and her profession. Also read: Noor song Jise Kehte Pyaar Hai: Sonakshi Sinha and Purab Kohli's love story will make your heart flutter - watch video
In Bollywood, very few movies are made about lives of journalists and how they have to survive in this cut-throat world of media in search of breaking news. One movie that comes to my mind is Madhur Bhandarkar's Page 3, a flawed, two-dimensional but nevertheless gritty look at high society parties and their connection to media. Though Noor has its dark moments, it doesn't delve into murkier depths and instead does its best to keep things lively and breezy, especially in the first half. In fact, the whole first half is quite a winner thanks to some clever writing, interesting main characters and a fresh premise. Noor's narration about her life and career will resonate with you if you have been a journalist or even a career-driven person staying in a metropolitan city. Her insights about herself will make you chuckle, as well as make you think, hmmm… that's exactly what I feel. Even when the movie gets into serious territory, there are some scenes that stay with you, like that scene where Noor's boss making her realise where she went wrong with the biggest scoop of her life. Or when Malati and Noor have a tearful reconciliation near the climax. Most of the characters are well-rounded, be it the bumbling protagonist, her bestie who has a crush on her, her dashing, deceptive boyfriend and a boss, who might be more of a businessman than a journalist now, but who hasn't let go of his ethics. I'm this dog-eat-dog world, Noor questions how we, as journalists, are so eager to pull up a breaking story that we ignore the collateral damage it causes to the innocents, and it does so in a quite an effective manner. The dialogues are a winner, be it Noor whipping about how her butt has become so big that it may soon need its own postcode. Or her rhetorical FU to her betrayer in the climax. The cinematography, while not capturing the essence of Mumbai as well as a Wake Up Sid or a Bluffmaster, is gorgeous, while the music by Amaal Malik is decent.
Coming to performances, Noor is definitely one of Sonakshi Sinha's stronger performances (Lootera still stands as the best performance for me when it comes to Sonakshi). She may be tad unbelievable as the bumbling journalist. However, it is in the scenes where she has to portray betrayal and heartbreak where she shines the best. What works best for her is the writers have made sure that her characters has layers - she may talk about research and changing the world, but she is flawed herself. We have to also laud her for bravely poking fun at her weight issues, though she looked quite glam for me. Standup comedian Kanan Gill makes an impressive debut as Noor's best friend harbouring a secret infatuation for her. Purab Kohli is also quite decent, while Manish Chaudhari shows once again why he is such an underrated performer. However, the standout performance for me was by Smita Tambe, as the maid who gets trampled in her madam's lofty ambitions.
The curse of the second half strikes back! That should be the name of the book if anyone wants to write about mainstream Bollywood movies. Unfortunately, even Noor is also a victim of this curse, which nearly undoes all the things good set up by the first half. Things go on a serious turn here, as Noor goes into a self-introspective mood about where she went wrong and how she gets about setting things right. Not a bad idea, however, the execution of this leaves a lot to be desired. The scenes where she goes rectifying her errors and makes amends with Malati are written in such a half-hearted manner, that we wonder if the makers hired a different set of writers here. Even the supposed resolution of the crisis, Noor's poem 'Mumbai, You're Killing Me!' is not as effective as it should have been. The main grouse being we don't understand the hatred she has for Mumbai when it is her own failing that let her down. She was only going after an organ-harvesting scam, and suddenly she begins bitching about everything on social media. Sure, social media can be effective in uncovering various issues, like the recent TVF sexual harassment scandal. But a tighter writing in these portions would have worked wonders. There are loopholes galore, like how Ayan's sudden, journalistic turn from a photographer. Or how Saad manages to take Noor on an impromptu London trip without going through a visa process. Noor herself admits she has never been to London, so she can't have a visa. That's a scandal I want to uncover!
What to do
Noor has its flaws, and it certainly isn't this year's Queen, if you really want to get into comparison mode. But Noor still manages to endear to you with its light-hearted, fresh treatment and Sonakshi Sinha's winning performance, if you don't attach too many expectations.
3 out of 5
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