Films That I Like – Akshay Roy’s ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ (2017)

Sometimes there are films that you like for no particular reason. Not because of its songs, not because it’s funny or full of melodrama, but for the way, the film chooses to speak to you. And the moment it does, something magical happens. Life has its unique way of flinging throwbacks at you when you see an old photograph or go through old stuff such as clothes or pages of half-written diaries. But when a film does that, it jolts you from inside. It rakes those memories, that you thought, had been locked down deep inside of your heart and you made an impossible effort to throw the keys to it. But then again, at times, it makes you smile thinking about those wonderful memories. ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ is one such film. A film that essentially is a mixed tape of songs, chosen by two individuals in the nineties, which somehow are linked to their lives, their friendship and love for each other and eventually the decisions that make each of their lives go topsy turvy. I saw this film on a rainy evening and since then, it has stayed with me. Over the years, it has become a very personal film. Just like the tune of an old song, which refuses to go out of your head, once you start humming it. Just like Abhimanyu ‘Bubla’ Roy. Just like Bindu Shankarnarayanan. 

‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ begins and ends with Abhimanyu Roy aka Bubla. The voice of the film, Bubla is a quintessential Bengali guy, who grows up, admiring his neighbour, his best friend Bindu. Bubla, on the present day, is a successful author, settled in Mumbai, who specialises in horror stories, that has a generous dosage of sex and talks about the carnal desires of Awara Dhoban or a Chudail. Stuck in the writers’ limbo, after his last bestselling pulp fiction novel, Bubla, in desperation, goes back to his hometown Kolkata, partly because his parents scare him of getting a divorce. As Bubla gets into his room, after evading countless relatives (A classic Bong Phenomena!) and a bosom heaving ‘Bhooby’ mashi from Salt Lake, he stumbles onto an old audio cassette. A cassette, that had hidden stories about love, loss and perhaps a strained old friendship. He plays the cassette and just like an earthly smell of an old magazine, his memories start trickling into his room in the form of – Bindu.

Bindu Shankarnarayanan. Brat, catty, full of life, Bindu is the definition of the manic pixie dream girl that goes on a soul searching journey, after living her life to the fullest. Abhimanyu tells us about Bindu, who like a nor’wester rain, bursts into his life. Through countless songs of Chitrahaar, two seven-year-old kids become friends where a wide-eyed Bubla watches his neighbour doing a take on ‘Aaiye Meherbaan’ a la Madhubala. This awe stays with Bubla as they grow up together. Throughout their childhood, adolescence and eventual youth, Bubla remains the second fiddle, while Bindu is the flamboyant of the two. Like Jai-Veeru of Sholay or Guruji-Bhola of ‘Padosan’, they are thick as thieves. Eventually, life takes both of them on their separate ways, him to an MBA college, her to Australia, to follow her passion of being a rockstar. Initial days of hurriedly written letters give way to small notes and messages and so on, they trail off in their individual journeys.

Life brings them back together, after a hiatus of a few years. And this time, the friendship blossoms into love. Like Yin and Yang, Bindu and Abhimanyu complete each other. He becomes the anchor to her rocking ship. She becomes the love, that he always dreamt off. But then again, what is life, without a twist? Bindu’s dream of becoming a singer hits bottom, as her debut album finds no takers. At the same time, when she is going through this rejection, Bubla surprises her with a marriage proposal. The free soul inside Bindu sees this as a cage to trap her forever. The result? Bindu and Bubla go their separate ways, breaking off their engagement. An angry Bubla stops taking her calls and somehow, ends up pouring his emotions into books. After a couple of years, Bindu also settles into married life. 

Cut to present day, Abhimanyu, after reliving his whole life in a flashback, realises that he’s still in love with Bindu. And he rushes back to her, into her old house, as he hears a familiar way of a phone ringing. There he meets Bindu, now a woman, a mother to a beautiful daughter, a far cry from the brat she always was. Time stops for Abhimanyu and Bindu, as they keep looking at each other. Their lives, their love, their decisions, they re-live every emotion and contemplate what could’ve been. Abhimanyu, knowing that he and Bindu were never destined to be together, writes a happy ending in his novel named ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’, where finally they live happily ever after. With falling raindrops and to the tune of ‘Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin’, the couple reminisce about their lives as Abhimanyu signs off acknowledging the importance of Bindu in his life for eternity.

There are three most important aspects of the film – The city of Kolkata, the music and the characters. Kolkata becomes a spectator to this couple and their antics, who grow up together. Escaping the familiar montages of Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial, we delve deeper into the Padas of Kolkata, where life somehow has remained transcendental in sepia tone. The old-world charm of Kolkata isn’t complete without its people. The football-loving, carom playing junta, with their Lebu Chas (Lemon Tea) and Singaras (Samosas) take you to the by lanes of memory. Somewhere we see a little bit of old-world charm, the old school romanticism imbibed in Abhimanyu. Compared to him, the freewheeling Bindu is all about life taking her wherever she wants to go. We see a clash of views, a contrast in personalities, yet they fall for each other. But that’s what love does, right? Opposites attract.

Music is something that binds them together. Bindu wants to be a musician. Bubla is a die-hard fan of old Hindi film music. At some point in their relationship, they decide to create a mixtape with songs that remind them of certain moments in life. Certain moments which later became precious memories, of happiness, of sadness. Music also runs as a motif in the film. Abhimanyu explains life is just like a mixtape of songs where moments unfurl from side-A to side-B. Some songs are so precious that you don’t want them to end. And some just linger on, as you keep humming them. Life turns out far better when people work in tandem just like a duet song, where two singers just bring magic to the table when they sing together. The music directors Sachin-Jigar along with lyricist Kausar Munir take the film to a notch higher with their soulful music and words. Every song of this album is a keepsake.

The characters, the ensemble cast who surround Bindu and Bubla, constitute a very important angle of this story. Bindu’s mother, who dies in a car accident apparently due to the negligence of Bindu’s drunk father, leaves a deep impression on Bindu. She blames her father for her death and for years, a barrier is created between the father-daughter duo, until Bubla takes matter into his own hands to call a truce. Bubla’s parents, a tad caricatural version of Bengali parents, played by Rajatava Dutta and Aparajita Adhya are a hoot on screen! Check out the scene, where Bubla’s mother pleads his father to say something to Bubla and in the next moment, asks him to shut up! It’s endearing to see the mother being worried as for her, the son never grew up whereas for the father, the son’s intelligent enough to make his own decisions. Bubla’s friend – his buddy from school, who has seen both of them over years, makes an important observation – The people, who don’t even know Bubla and Bindu, even they know about the warmth that they share. It’s interesting to see both Bubla and Bindu fall for different people earlier in their lives, but in the company of each other, they seem to be oblivious about others. Bubla, more than Bindu, because hey! after all, it is Bubla’s story.

The core essence of the film is the old school romance. Bubla falls for Bindu. For him, Bindu’s happiness is everything. He does everything in his capacity to make her happy, especially helping her achieve her dream of becoming a rockstar. Even Bindu plays her part, in shaping Bubla’s career as an author. But being opposites, they eventually face off on the edge of life, where Bubla is looking for a simple life with a house in Matunga, with two kids and a dog whereas Bindu sees herself performing in front of thousands of frenzied audience in some concert. A textbook love story goes astray, because the people involved in it, are looking for different things in life. Love, it seems, is never prepared for life and life, with its ever-increasing and soul-crushing sized expectations, bury love in the sand. Over the years, when Bubla finally realises that he’s still in love with Bindu, life has already taken its revenge. The moments are gone, just like the grains of sand slipping through the fingers. Only the memories linger on. The memories that have the forgotten smell of love. And Bubla has only those memories to live the rest of his life. In his own words-

Bindu…

Woh jiske bagair main kabhi pura nahi ho sakta tha…

Aadhi khatam classic mild se behtar…

Baarish main half cutting chai se acchi…

Ya Hrishikesh Mukherjee ke ‘Anand’ ke aakhri dus minute se jyada heartbreaking…

Sharabi dost… Zakir Bhai Ka Tabla…

Sachin Tendulkar Ka Straight Drive…

Dhak dhak karti hui Madhuri ya Tip tip barsaat main Raveena…

Geeta Dutt Ki Awaz…

‘Mera Kuch Saaman’ Ke Woh Suljhe Alfaaz…

In sab se jyada pyaar karta tha main Bindu se…

‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ belongs to a forgotten era where love used to happen over a cup of coffee, shared biryani and recorded audio cassettes. It’s a bittersweet love story that brings a lump to the throat, yet you never lose that smile from the face. The characters are as real as the next-door neighbours. The pain and the anguish that the couple face is something that everyone can relate to. But the love can only be felt by those, who have loved and lost. 

 

‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’ (2017) – Directed by Akshay Roy, Written by Suprotim Sengupta. Starring – Ayushmaan Khurrana, Parineeti Chopra

 

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