Noor is the story of a 28-year-old Mumbai girl who calls herself ‘dunia ki sabse pointless journalist.’ Noor wants to do issue-based broadcast journalism. She wants to talk about asli logon ki asli problems. Instead her boss sends her to interview Sunny Leone. Noor struggles with her weight – mera weight mere twitter followers se zyada hai, she says. She struggles with her dwindling bank balance and she struggles with the lack of hot men in her life. She classifies them as urban legend. Somehow, she doesn’t’ notice her best friend Saad, who is played by Kanan Gill. Yes, the comic Kanan Gill, who is routinely asked by journalists if there is any advantage in being cute and funny.
Noor, the film, not the character, feels like the love child of the Bridget Jones franchise and Madhur Bhandarkar’s Page 3. The film works as long as it echoes the former but it wobbles as soon as Noor finds an asli problem and attempts to expose it. Noor also falls into a sub-category of a genre that I call Posh People Angst – essentially stories of affluent, pretty people struggling with existential issues and matters of the heart. Think of the movies created by the Chopras, Akhtars, Karan Johar. Noor is hipster millennial angst, which is angst played out in coffee shops, swanky bars and of course social media.
The film is based on Saba Imtiaz’s novel Karachi, You’re killing me! I haven’t read the book so I can’t say if anything has been lost in the switch from Karachi to Mumbai. But one of the best things in the film is the way in which director Sunhil Sippy and DOP Keiko Nakahara capture the city. It’s beautiful and brutal. Sonakshi Sinha is also utterly lovely – especially in the first half when Noor is whiney, judgmental, entitled – the sort of girl who feels so sorry for herself that she eats a big slice of her birthday cake, alone, in bed. She’s flawed and funny – just like Bridget Jones. Sonakshi’s performance feels effortless and wholly relatable. Watch out also for Smita Tambe who adds tremendous heft as Noor’s housemaid Malti. Kanan is awkward in the more dramatic scenes but he nails the fun moments. Every woman needs a Saad-style bestie.
The first half is breezy and buoyant with some sparkling dialogues by Ishita Moitra Udhwani but the film derails as soon as the story takes a serious turn. The fun, easy vibe gives way to a labored crisis, which leads to a glib resolution. The energy deflates and the writing becomes more and more feeble, ending ultimately with every journalist’s fantasy – independence, relevance and a nice-sized office.
I wish Noor had stayed superficial. There’s a lovely scene with her and Saad as the end credits roll – I hope someone makes a film about the two of them and what happened after that conversation.
They deserve more.