Parvathy arrives in Bollywood with Qarib Qarib Singlle

Irrfan Khan and Parvathy Thiruvoth in a still from Qarib Qarib Singlle.
Irrfan Khan and Parvathy Thiruvoth in a still from Qarib Qarib Singlle.
Parvathy Thiruvoth, the remarkable actress who has made a name for herself in Malayalam and other South Indian language films, has arrived in Bollywood with a bang with Qarib Qarib  Singlle (QQS) and for that reason alone the fun-filled movie about loneliness and companionship is worth watching.
The accomplished Irrfan Khan, whose delightful humour is, of course, the icing on the cake, and the breathtaking beauty of the exotic locations where the movie has been shot in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Sikkim as well as the scenes on the vintage Fairy Queen train make for an engaging romantic comedy.
Enjoyable as it is, the movie may be a little disappointing, too, for discerning viewers, leaving as it does quite a few loose ends. But Parvathy, bringing a breath of fresh air to Bollywood, makes up for everything and leaves you wanting for more.
Parvathy, who made her debut in the 2006 Malayalam movie Out of Syllabus, was also noticed for her performances in such films as Vinodyatra, Notebook, Poo and Bangalore Days. She won the 2015 Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performances in Ennu Ninte Moideen and Charlie. She was more recently applauded for her role in Take Off.
QQS also marks the return of director Tanuja Chandra to filmmaking after nine years. The inspiration for the movie came from a radio play her mother Kamna Chandra wrote years ago. She has co-written the screenplay with Gazal Dhaliwal and given it a contemporary feel.
In essence, QQS is the story of a man and a woman in their 30s. Jaya is a widow, having lost her husband, an Army officer. Yogi has had girl friends, three of them, who end up marrying other men. He imagines they must be still pining for him. Both are lonely and yearn for companionship. The two, polar opposites, end up meeting each thorugh a dating website, Ab Tak Single.
The rest of the movie is about their meetings, their conversations, their interaction and their journey together to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, Alwar in Rajasthan and Gangtok in Sikkim, during which they revisit their past and discover themselves and finally each other. A road movie, except that much of the travel is by air and by train, and a coming of age romance of sorts, though the two people concerned are way beyond the "coming of age" stage.
QQS crackles with fun, right from the word go as, first, Jaya and, then, Yogi are introduced to us. Parvathy is on top of her role as role as Jaya and Irrfan, as always, is superb, though his playing of the rich happy-go-lucky Yogi will remind you of his role in the recent Hindi Medium. The chemistry between  the lead pair is crackling.
The movie is different from most Bollywood films in that the two main characters are mature adults who have already logged years and lived through experiences. Both have pleasant memories of their past, which they preserve. Yogi is still looking for a partner who will share his life, Jaya has started looking out again, prodded along by friends and colleagues.
Irrfan Khan, Parvathy at screening of Qarib Qarib Singlle
However, you do not get too many details of the back stories of the two characters. In the case of Yogi, you never really find out what he does for a living, where his money has come from and why the women in his life decided to move on. You can't help feeling that his part is mainly to serve as a foil for the character of Jaya and it is to Irrfan's credit that he gives us so much from a rather thinly written role. 
Jaya's character is slightly more fleshed out. She has a career, goes to work, has a family with whom she interacts over the telephone and through internet chats and we meet a few of her colleagues and acquaintances. We also become a little aware of her inner thoughts and fears, not just through her conversations with the camera but also through her expressions.
Still, you never get to know Jaya enough to understand her decisions or what makes her change her mind at different points. To that extent, many of the situations appear contrived and the ending rather abrupt.
Both the lead actors are perfectly cast, with Irrfan Khan underplaying his character and allowing Parvathy to walk away with the honours with a performance that makes Jaya appear very real and entirely relatable.
There are some good actors in the minor roles, too, but, unfortunately, they get to do very little. Many of them walk in and out, none of them is etched out in any detail and most of them are not related to each other. So while there are actors like Neha Dhupia, Luke Kenny, Siddharth Menon, Isha Sharvani, Pushtiie Shakti, Brijendra Kala, Bajrangbali Singh and Navneet Nishan in the cast, very few of them appear long enough to make a big difference to the story. Within  these constraints, Aman Sharma makes an impact in the role of a taxi driver.
Overall, the movie is worth a watch. And if you like Parvathy's performance, it might be a good idea to catch up on some of her Malayalam films.


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