'She never told her love, But let her concealment, like a worm 'i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek, she pined in thought, And with a green and yellow meloncholy, She sat like a patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
These lines from William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' kept coming back to me while watching 'Malaal'. They aptly describe the female protagonist Astha (Sharmin Sehgal) who finds herself getting drawn to the brutish and ill-mannered Shiva (Meezaan Jaffery).
Set in the chawls of the 90s in Mumbai, Shiva is the quintessential local 'tapori' who spends most of his time picking up street brawls, drinking and hanging out with his friends. When the curly-haired Aastha moves in their modest chawl with her family, things begin on a shaky note as our lead protagonists are as different as chalk and cheese.
However, as time passes, sparks fly between the two. Astha falls for his unabashed way of living, quick temper and unrestrained profanity. He on the other hand, ends up growing on her calmness and patience. The duo balance each other like ying and yang. But, what's a love story without any roadblocks?
Mangesh Hadawale's film is inspired by the Tamil hit, '7G Rainbow colony' and the makers give credit to Selvaraghavan in their opening titles. Two people of contrasting personalities and backgrounds who are united by love, but divided by circumstances. Based on this tried-and-tested formula, Malaal works in parts and pieces.
Shiva counts the numbers of steps she walks from the bus top to her home in the chawl. While Aastha knows the color and number of shirts and 'ganjis' owned by him along with the details of holes on them. He finds her 'vaas' (scent) alluring, while she is mighty impressed with his math skills. Their love story is one of its kind.
However, their simmering romance lacks the warmth and feels. The courtship which begins on a fun note, soon turns tedious. Some of the scenes are laughable.
Meezaan Jaffery looks confident in front of the camera and it would be really interesting to watch what the young lad takes up next after this. He's got the grooves when it comes to the dance floor as well. Also was it only me or the boy actually resembles Ranbir Kapoor from 'Sawariyaa' in a lot of frames, especially when it's a side-profile shot?
Sharmin Segal has a refreshing face and gets her shining moments as well. But the debutantes really need to pull up their socks when it comes to emoting intense sequences.
Since the film is produced under Sanjay Leela Bhansali's banner, the maestro's influence is quite evident in the cinematic frames and the music. The film could have been snipped shorter by a couple of moments.
In the music department, Aila Re is a earworm after repeated listening. Udhal Ho too impresses with its distinct Marathi flavour. But, it's Shreya Ghosal's Kathai Kathai which steals your heart.
One of the songs in the film has lyrics which goes like, 'Besure dil ne sur khanka diye, Ishq ke moti hai chhanka diye, Ab udd raha hoon jaise rangeen bulbula.' Sadly, these bubbles burst a little early. I am going with 2.5 stars.