About the story: Calcutta, 1962. Two upper middle class families live next to each other: Gurcharat (Achyut Potdar), resides with his wife Vasundhara (Kumkum Bhattacharya), daughter Koel (Raima Sen), foster daughter Lolita (Vidya Balan) and cousin Charu Sharma (Smita Malhotra) in a palatial haveli; next door lives rich industrialist Navinchandra Rai (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) with his wife Rajeshwari (Surinder Kaur) and son Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan), a passionate musician. Three years ago, Gurcharat suffered a heart attack and had to borrow 100.000 rupees from Navin. For this sum and the interest he mortgaged his estate, which is worth millions. Although he lost his work in the meantime and does not know how to pay the money back, he trusts the "gentleman" in Navin, even more so since his son Shekhar has been Lolita's best friend since their childhood. But Navin can't wait to get his hands on the haveli, evict its inhabitants and rebuild it into a hotel. Help for Gurcharat's family comes in form of Charu's brother Girish Sharma (Sanjay Dutt), who has become a wealthy businessman in London. But Girish falls in love with Lolita - and soon, Shekhar starts doubting her honesty...
With Parineeta (= married woman), Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Pradeep Sarkar managed to make an impressive and harmonious screen adaptation. A special coup was the idea to shift the story of the novel Chattopadhyay wrote in 1914 to Calcutta in the 1960es. Thus, Chopra took the plot out of its historical context but still left it a past, nostalgic look. The flair of elegant and luxurious palaces, a cute nostalgic train (in which Saif Ali Khan's mother Sharmila Tagore once drove past film cameras for Aradhana) and glamorous nightclub "Moulin Rouge" define this movie and make it more than just nice to look at - its stylish, nostalgic ambience makes one feel good overall.
The cast is also very felicitous. Rarely a whole cast leaves such a wholly harmonic impression, there is no misfit at all. This applies to all members of the two families as well as to the few other supporting cast like Diya Mirza in her small role of spoiled and elegant Gayatri Tantiya, who keeps more than one wishful eye on Shekhar. Which is more than understandable, as Saif Ali Khan is a downright attractive guy and has by nature the noble characteristics needed for this role. His performance is expressive and intense, an overall convincing character portrait. The biggest surprise is Vidya Balan, who more than rewarded Chopra und Sarkar for their courage of casting a newcomer as heroine in their expensive and prestigious project. With her sensitive and striking performance she managed a debut film that made many colleagues, critics and viewers put her on the same level with important stars of Hindi cinema, like Madhuri Dixit, and foretell her a great career. No doubt she has the potential for it.
To have a distinguished actor like Sanjay Dutt for the relatively small but crucial role of sympathetic and wise Girish, that is a true stroke of luck. With his charismatic presence Sanjay prevents the character of Girish from playing second fiddle to the more central figure of Shekhar, while at the same time playing with enough sensitivity, as not to make his role the more dominant one. Girish and Shekhar are equally important characters, and even in their final confrontation Sanjay does not use more authority than needed, thus making that scene between him and Saif (who delivered a strong performance, too, as mentioned before) truly enthralling. With his classical Bengali dance and the great "Moulin Rouge" song "Kaisi Paheli Zindegani" with guest star Rekha, Sanjay proves that his movements have not lost any of their cat-like elegance of the early 90es. And he can enact his fine sense of humour several times as Girish. Filmfare, Stardust and Zee Cine Awards all honoured this beautiful and impressive performance with a nomination each in the category "best supporting actor", but sadly the nominations were all he got. (Honestly I don't expect any more by now...)
The leaflet with the DVD by UTV characterizes Girish as follows: "Every woman’s dream-man. Exuberant, fun-loving, gallant, sensitive and a self-made man. Girish falls head-over-heals in love, but does not lose his head. His success, surprisingly, has made him humble and compassionate rather than arrogant. Inside this wealthy and world-wise young man resides the spirit of a mischievous child, and Girish is constantly playing pranks to bring a smile on others’ faces."
Could Sanju be described any better?
Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra; Directed by Pradeep Sarkar
129 Min.; DVD: UTV, English Subtitles (including songs); Bonus DVD with Making Of, Behind the Scenes, Making of "Yeh Hawayein", Curtain Raiser, Trailer und Still Gallery. Coloured leaflet with lyrics and informations about the film, cast and crew.
© Diwali; Translated by Anamika