'Tujhe kya lagta hai, yeh sab hum kar rahe hain. Humari kahaani pehle se likhi hui hain,' says Qais to his lady love Laila and he's absolutely right! Laila Majnu is one of the most told folklores about two star-crossed lovers whose depth of love and intensity of passion for each other knew no boundaries. In Sajid Ali's retelling of this eternal love saga, the characters find themselves in contemporary times, but the emotions are still the same.
To begin with, Sajid Ali's rendition begins with Laila (Tripti Dimri), a free-spirited girl who doesn't shy from flirting with guys and leading them on without a shred of guilt. Until she comes across Qais (Avinash Tiwary), a rich, spoilt brat who falls for her at first sight. Their puppy love slowly culminates into intense passionate romance, only for them to realize that they are not destined to be together in this world.
Imtiaz Ali and love stories rarely go awry and with Laila Majnu (co-written with Sajid Ali), the man once again brings in his Midas touch especially in the last 20-25 minutes where the emotions reach the crescendo. It takes a while to settle into Sajid Ali's world of Laila Majnu. The film begins on a shaky note as you take some time to warm up to his characters. Initially, Trupti's Laila leaves you with lot of questions. Her behaviour comes off a tad bizarre. But as minutes pass by and with Qais's entry, things finally seem to be falling in place. His wooing game captures your attention.
But it's post interval when Qais' transformation into Majnu begins, that you find yourself engrossed deep into this passionate love story. The pain, the madness, the intensity...everything suddenly seems so real! Sajid Ali's captivating execution leaves a mark!
Speaking about the performances, Avinash Tiwary as Qais/Majnu is a real discovery especially in the latter half of the film. There's pain, longing, heartbreak, pathos and even hallucination! Mind you, the feelings refuse to leave you even after the end credits. Watch out for the scene where a dishevelled Kais dressed in a pheran slips into insanity and breaks into 'Hafiz Hafiz' (which means in love, I have become closer to God) after someone throws a stone at him! From a happy-go-lucky Qais to a numbling lunatic Majnu, Avinash is a complete revelation.
Tripti Dimri looks drop dead goergeous from the first frame till the last. She shines in parts when it comes to her untamed side, but fails to match up to Avinash.
Sayak Bhattacharya's lens flirt with the beauty of Kashmir and effectively adds more layers when it comes to love and the longing.
Imtiaz Ali's films always leave a lasting impression when it comes to music and Laila Majnu is no different! My pick from the album is Hafiz Hafiz who has a lingering effect. Ahista Ahista and O Meri Laila too impresses.
'Koi fikr nahi hai, koi garaz nahi, bas ishq huaa hai, koi marz nahi', Sajid Ali's Laila Majnu is just like that! Despite the flaws, you just can't help yourself from falling in love with it. Avinash Tiwary's fervent performance coupled with Imtiaz Ali's magic with the pen and the enchanting music makes revisiting the folklore of Laila Majnu worth it. To put it in Imtiaz's words, 'this film has less logic and more passion'.