A family film with a patriotic character and a searing romance at the heart of it…
By Angena Chopra
THIS is a visually stunning period piece and dazzlingly compelling.
Set in Pre-Partition India, in the 1940s, it is based around a family living in Husnabad.
They have their secrets, shall we say…
Alia Bhat, who plays ‘Roop’, is a magnet for the camera – it lingers on her doll like ethereal angelic beauty.
Her character is engaging – she makes headstrong decisions and they are life-changing choices.
In stark contrast Varun Dhawan, as ‘Zafar’ – her object d’amour, is strikingly intense, with brooding eyes.
There is a great brimming, inner turmoil within him, and you simply don’t know when it will explode…
He enchants from the first frame physically, emotionally and romantically, and is introduced in what is an exceptional track sung by Arjit Singh and Neeti Mohan.
The chemistry between the duo is like a new Heer-Ranjha, Laila-Majnu (common romantic folklore lovehearts) pairing.
Sonakshi Sinha’s role was tricky (‘Satya Chaudhry’), but she carries it well. Mention should also be made of Aditya Roy Kapoor (‘Dev Chaudhry’) – this is a very fine performance.
The film has a grand epic quality to it – there are dreamy locations, bejewelled costumes, and star-crossed love sparks that light the night sky – and the back-drop is politically stormy, as the desire to be free rises among the Indian population.
Madhuri Dixit (‘Bahaar Begum’) is demure and Sanjay Dutt (‘Balraj Chaudhry’), as the strict patriarch is commanding and authoritative.
These are supporting roles that must give away to the central couple – in Dhawan and Bhatt.
Nevertheless, Dixit and Bhatt captivate in vocal and aesthetic appeal in ‘Ghar More Pardesiya’.
Bhatt is gracious in this scene and lets those around her sparkle without looking anything less than a star.
The major flaw of this Abhishek Varman (‘2 States’) directed movie is its length – the love story is drawn out and a generation brought up now on Netflix will inevitably fidget and get distracted.
Some fight sequences are over-elaborate, especially the one where Dhawan takes on a bull. Yes, it is meant to show his strength, both physical and emotional.
The story is unusual, but not always managed smoothly, yet despite this, it does have a strength and can be considered an ‘ishq mohabbat’ (a high form of love, with a strong sense of romance).
Much of this film does entertain and bewitch – the music is beautiful and Dhawan is emerging as a romantic hero with his own signature. For the nostalgics among us, this is shades of the Amitabh Bachchan of old – action hero, romantic, brooding, poetic, and funny.
In the end, this is a film for romantics – make no mistake about it and those looking for that sort of film won’t be disappointed, just so long as they know it is three hours of their life…
Acv rating: ****½ (out of five)