As any single adult would tell you, online dating sites are a minefield of unknowns.
But director Tanuja Chandra goes out on a limb with her new romantic comedy, Qarib Qarib Singlle, and taps into the hook-up between Jaya
(Parvathy) and Yogi (Irrfan Khan) — two misfits who meet through a dating website.
Their first meeting is expectedly awkward; it is a voyeur’s delight.
The perils of meeting a stranger for coffee is delightfully brought out. There are no sparks flying here and that’s a refreshing change for a Bollywood romantic comedy.
Jaya is a workaholic executive, while Yogi is a motor-mouth with boundary issues. Yogi acts overfamiliar, making Jaya wonder out aloud if he’s a creepy stalker. Khan, in his wry, dead-pan style agrees with her, saying he does have a stalker-like face.
His agreement with her all-too-real assessment was an icebreaker for not just that couple, but for the viewers, too.
But both these characters aren’t instantly likeable. Jaya is uptight and prudish, while Yogi is full-on, perhaps even narcissistic.
But it is Khan’s superlative acting skills that make his character endearing. His dogged determination to erode Jaya’s mental blocks puts a smile on your face. While you understand that Yogi is persistent, you simply cannot fathom why the reticent Jaya continues to encourage him and even agrees to go away together on a trip. Their getaway is far from perfect. For most of the time, Yogi is bungling up with his efforts to please his dowdy date.
Be ready to suspend belief as you watch him embarrass himself constantly.
But what keeps us hooked are the nuggets of humorous twists. While Khan owns the role of the optimistic, eternally jovial Yogi, South Indian actress Parvathy takes time to warm up to her role. She’s painfully ordinary and the only time she lets go is when she pops one too many sleeping pills, then goes rogue on Yogi.
And that’s a downer because it makes you wonder whether that’s only way she can loosen up.
A romantic comedy is also as successful as the spark between the two lead players, but there’s not sufficient fizz to keep this romance alive. While their verbal duelling is fun to watch, the reluctant courtship between two flawed individuals can turn tedious towards the end. Of the two, you are often rooting for Yogi, while Jaya comes across as screechy when turning confrontational.
While the film begins on the millennial note of hooking up, the middle-aged players are painfully traditional in their methods of discovering each other.
Another pet peeve was that the best portions of the film were given away in the trailer and therefore there’s hardly any mystery alive in the film. The second half seems laboured, too.
Give this romantic comedy a try if you are a fan of Khan.
Don’t miss it!
What: Qarib Qarib Singlle
Cast: Irrfan Khan and Parvathy
Director: Tanuja Chandra
Stars: 3 out of 5