Genre: Romance, Drama
Cast: Zaheer Iqbal, Pranutan Bahl
Direction: Nitin Kakkar
Written by: Mohammed Darab Farooqi
Duration: 1 hour 55 minutes
Language: Hindi (U)
Critic’s Rating: 3/5
Adapted from the Thai film, Teacher’s Diary (2014), the film begins with an ex-army officer Kabir (Zaheer Iqbal) returning back to Kashmir to be a school teacher. Contrary to what he anticipated, the school is located in the middle of the remote Wular Lake. It not only lacks basic facilities like running water and electricity, but is also attended by just a handful of students. The narrative picks pace after Kabir finds a notebook left behind by the previous year’s teacher, Firdaus (Pranutan Bahl).
We live in fast-paced times, where everything from love to sex is a hurried process. So, whether or not we subscribe to the pace at which our lives move on, we have to match that speed or we will be left behind. Guess, the makers of Notebook didn’t bargain for this. They have made a pristine, pure, love story, which appears to be set in some medieval age. There is no conflict here, there are no opposing fathers, mothers, brothers or even neighbours.
Given these circumstances, the lead couple, debutants Pranutan and Zaheer, could have at least indulged in a highly-passionate romance, sung some beautiful songs in the Kashmir valley and then burnt logs to do a “Roop tera mastana.’’ Instead, the newcomers (both competent in their acting) have been advised to get to like each other through the scribbles in a notebook. Honestly, who is going to buy this today? While the intention can be lauded, the actual premise will be faulted because it’s like talking of Ram in the times of Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan’s most-favourite film name).
However, what you do buy here is Kashmir. Shot with love by cinematographer Manoj Kumar Khatoi, the breath-taking ‘Heaven on Earth’ often makes you miss a heartbeat. Idyllic surroundings wish you could just walk into that set-up and embrace it during your next vacation.
Director Nitin Kakkar showed a more imaginative slant in his debut, Filmistaan (2012). Here, he sticks to a placid pattern.
The music by Vishal Mishra works; all the tracks (Nai Lagda, Laila, Safar, Bumro and Main Taare, which is sung by Salman Khan) have a melancholic quality. But, you do wish, the soundtrack had been infused with more passion.
Honestly, there is nothing wrong with this film. You only wish it hadn’t been so antiseptic. After all, fairy tales are best when they are written by Brothers Grimm (Cinderella) and Lewis Carroll (Alice In Wonderland).
Verdict: Oh, well it depends on whether or not you subscribe to the age of innocence.