With a title like Lafangey Parindey one would expect the movie to be somewhat crass, riddled with street-gangs, brawls, bloody fights, bruises, cuss-words, the works. And maybe a love-story amidst all that disorder coz let’s face it – it’s a movie. And bang! the lead actors are Neil Nitin Mukesh and Deepika Padukone – two of the classier actors around. Totally out of place!
Lafangey Parindey is set in the Tilakwadi chawl in Mumbai, where Nandan Kamtekar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is known by the name of one-shot-Nandu – a loafer by day and boxer by night, winning fights for the local goon, Usman bhai (Piyush Mishra). As with any tapori, his role-model is another bigger one – Anna (Kay Kay Menon) and in helping him out after a hit one rainy night, he causes an accident which changes everything. Anna dies but Nandu escapes further punishment after the case is suppressed.
Pinky Patkar (Deepika Padukone) is a free-spirited girl in the same chawl, who aspires to raise above the muck around her by skating/dancing her way into a reality show and win it. But as fate would have it, she’s blinded in an accident and her dreams lie shattered. But around comes Nandu and he trains her to “see” without sight and nurtures her ambitions to win the competition as her dancing partner. Before long, friendship blossoms into love but the past returns to haunt them and threatens to wreck their relationships and Pinky’s dreams. Or does it?
I can’t help but compare the basic premise of the movie to a Telugu superhit of the 90’s – Nagarjuna and Simran starrer Nuvvu Vastavani. The motifs are all there – blind girl, an accident, dreams shattered, saviour comes along, hopes aroused, life changed, secrets revealed, torn apart only to be reunited at the end. Director Pradeep Sarkar might have “borrowed” the story or it might have been a true blue inspiration and he sets it in a Mumbai chawl, tapori-fies his hero a bit, characterizing him similar to Aamir Khan in Ghulam, I may add. But he gets his casting wrong. Neil Nitin Mukesh is hardly your average joe-tapori, even with a stubble (reddish!) and pierced ears. And his delivery of the mumbaiyya tapori slang is no better. Equally bad, if not worse, is Deepika, who does well in the blind girl character but her suaveness and dressing sense belie her chawl-girl character. There are the usual motley group of friends, hanging around, having a good time and sometimes catalyzing a change.
Another big handicap of the movie is its music. Yash Raj movies have always had good music scores and even Pradeep Sarkar’s previous efforts – Parineeta and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag had decent songs innit. But LP doesn’t even have a single stand-out song, with the title song and nain parindey mainly serving as the background pieces and dhatad tatad serving up as the matka-tod/navratri-dandia group song. Rang daaley is ok but as a showpiece song of a climactic dance sequence it isn’t standout enough.
The skate-dance sequences are good to watch and well-choreographed but it is pretty evident that it is a double who stands-in for Deepika in the long-shots with the close-ups never showing the skates for intricate moves. In her defence, Deepika does the slow moves and the slides herself but the intricate pirouettes and swivels are done by a professional. Neil does most of his dance moves in the training sessions but not in the climax – where there’s a blatant use of CGI. The dances are done by professionals and the special effects wizards paint Neil’s & Deepika’s faces on them in the lab! They could’ve done a better job as it is pretty evident on the big screen
To give them their due, both Neil and Deepika try hard at roles they’ve not attempted before and do okay, if not all too good. Neil had started off with a gray character in Johnny Gaddaar and has shown us he isn’t shy of taking up challenging roles. Playing a tapori is no piece of cake and not many can be as good at it as Aamir Khan but credit to Nitin for trying his hand at it. Deepika also tries hard and kinda gets into the skin of the blind-girl character and as the girl from the lower strata of society, dreaming to make it big via a talent hunt show. Erm…doesn’t it remind us of Sonam Kapoor from Delhi 6? You know what, this movie reminds me of too many other movies for me to take a liking to it. Stay away!