‘Laila Majnu’ review: Sajid Ali does full justice to the story

Director: Sajid Ali

Cast: Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Benjamin Gilani, Parmeet Sethi

Rating: *** 1/2

Imtiyaz Ali, who’s known for his mastery in romantic story telling, this time re-writes the age old story of the fateful love story between Laila and Majnu for brother Sajid Ali to direct. Sajid does full justice to the story of irrepressible Laila and insanely passionate Qais (later referred to as Majnu). Sajid sets the story in the breath-taking backdrop of Kashmir (beautiful cinematography by Sayak Bhattacharya ), thus making the love and longing of the fateful couple more real.

Ali’s Laila (played by Tripti Dimri) is an interesting personality. She knows the power of her charm and loves every bit of the attention that she gets from the men around. She is beautiful and openly flaunts her sexuality, much to the discomfort of people around her. When Qais (Avinash Tiwary) happens to meet her, they are fatefully drawn to each other. He has a reputation already, with rumours suggesting that he’s an alcoholic and a womaniser. A reputation that would put any other woman, piques Laila’s interest.

What begins as just a flirtatious rendezvous ends up being much deeper than the two lovers could imagine. Qais gets obsessed with Laila and thus starts his downward journey towards self destruction. Laila’s father (played by Parmeet Sethi) is a powerful man and is embroiled in a property dispute with Qais’ father (played by Benjamin Gilani). When the fighting families, refuse to let them unite, Qais escapes from the country. Four years later, by the time he’s back in the scene, he’s already in the brink of insanity.

Ali does full justice to his brother’s tender story and manages to narrate the deeply intense love story without having to resort to any intimate scenes. In a time and age when love stories move too fast, Laila Majnu delights with its slow burning passion and sustained intensity through the film. The film stays true to the love and longing and then the unravelling of its central character Qais, without any compromise and that is the strength of this film.

Tripti is pretty and plays Laila quite well, but the film truly belongs to Avinash Tiwary. Imtiyaz’s writing is mostly about Qais and his heart-breaking journey towards insanity. Tiwary does a brilliant job of handling this deeply intense character.  He is definitely an actor to look out for.  While Sajid maintains a steady hand through the two hour fifteen minute film, he stumbles a bit at the fag end as he seems to lose control of the display of emotions. The film pays tribute to Sooraj Bharjaty’s Maine Pyar Kiya in some scenes (there is even a pigeon with a love note).

The high point of this film is also its music. There are about ten songs in the film and one still pines for more. Music composed by Niladri Kumar and Joi Barua, are one of the best that has come out of Hindi films this year. Imtiyaz Ali’s films have always boasted of good music, and this one is just another proud addition.

Watch this film for sure because deeply emotional love stories are hard to come by these days.