Director Kanwal Sethi’s Once Again tells a mature story of middle aged romance and complex relationships amid societal norms
Stories dealing with middle aged romance, that too amid the societal pressure forbidding a person to look for happiness again after its lost, are quite rare. Once Again gets the message across with just the right amount of sensitivity. What you can’t get enough of in this one is the spellbinding performances by the lead pair.
Watch the trailer here:
During a chance phone interaction, Tara Shetty (Shefali Shah) and Amar Kumar (Neeraj Kabi) are drawn towards each other. Tara, a widow and a mother of two- a boy who is just about to be married and a girl- is a restaurant owner, who supplies tiffin to the popular actor Amar- a divorcee and father to a young girl.
The story by Sethi himself comes across as a breeze, making you fall in love with the plot just in the first sequence. The opening sequence with dialogues running in the backdrop and a man driving a car gives you the larger picture. You get into the zone instantly. It is this screenplay that emerges as the winner .
Considered a taboo and a forbidden lane for lonely middle aged couples in the society around, the story needs to be told and you feel the dire need. What is smartly and intelligently done is the way this is conveyed. Yes, its not a film for masses. First, it moves at a snail pace. Second, it requires you to be mature enough to understand life and relationships. But that’s the inherent beauty of the film. You fall in love with it only because it is slow.
Its a story of human emotions, complexities of the bonds, society and its rules, human desires, and the need to be happy. Now these are things which if not dealt with sincerity may come across as preachings and may be an attack on society. Kudos to Sethi for handling the subject with grace, what the plot wanted.
This 101mins film is dialogue heavy- each one better than the other. You miss a lot of detail if you miss one dialogue- that’s how they have been woven into the plot. A lot of the film also relies on phone conversations- absolute gems in themselves. The film is a lesson on how dialogues, simple and effective, can do magic to the plot. Ajitpal Singh, take a bow.
Samundar paas hai lekin phir bhi kitna dur and when at the later part the camera actually pans to symbolise this, or Main tumhare sath acting nahi karna chahti, Mujhe dekhke chalengi toh slip ho jaengi, are just few moments that leave a smile on your face asking you to applaud the director to no limits.
Reminding you of Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox in its basic theme, the actors have made sure you see difference. Also, the professions given to the characters in the film have a much deeper meaning. Amar being an actor and Tara a restaurant owner has a lot to say in itself. Also, coming to think of it, the film that Amar is shooting for within the film and the character he plays there has an impact on his tuning with Tara. Its these elements carefully picked, written, and conceived that make it a wholesome piece of entertainment with something to think about.
Needless to mention, its the impeccable use of silence that conveys a lot more than what is visible. With very minimal sound in background, its an effective attempt to convey what characters are and how they feel.
Shefali Shah rules this one. Not only does she look elegantly beautiful, she also comes across as a strong performer always in command of her part. You feel her pain, her loneliness, her desires, her happiness, her restriction, mental and physical space- all through her eyes. This one should top her filmography for the times to come. Was she born to play this one?
Neeraj Kabi is equally captivating and adorable, if not more. He’s a great actor, its already known. Here he does it with his eyes most of the time. A lonely man looking for companionship and how he tries to achieve that in a society that’s otherwise harsh- he nails the act. You don’t see the actor in him, not even for a moment. He is only the character for you. A brilliant act.
Priyanshu Painyuli, Bidita Bag, and Rasika Dugal do the needful as the kids of the lead pair. However, you do feel that their characters could have had more depth. It is only at this point when you feel a little more thought was needed.
Music by Talvin Singh is very good for it suits the plot aptly. It doesn’t have many songs, only a couple of them in the backdrop, but they do the needful. Background score in its minimalistic approach takes the film to symbolic highs.
Cinematography by Eeshit Narain is reasonably good for it keeps the film real and rooted. Even the lighting is to take note of. A job well done.
Production design by Rakesh Yadav is first rate. The overall appeal is visually just in place. Editing by Soren Ebbe, Anja Siemens, Andreas Wodraschke is satisfying. The flow is suited to the theme and you get an enriching experience.
Thanks to avenues like Netflix, movies and stories like these, which otherwise would have struggled to breathe in theatres are atleast reaching out. Thanks to makers like Sethi who are out there to give quality to Hindi cinema- the more the better.