Kolkata March 17, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Films with pertinent and topical central themes have always held a special place in the hearts of all classy Bollywood cinegoers. Movies like ‘Sangharsh’, ‘Haasil’ and the more recent ‘Bol’, while not huge blockbusters in themselves, had received widespread critical acclaim, adding fuel to the belief that, for a movie to be appreciated among the elite, its content simply has to be strong and captivating. Debutant director Marukh Mirza Beig shows considerable courage in selecting a poignant, socially relevant story for his first foray into filmmaking – the distinctly under-hyped ‘Say Yes To Love.’ The release of the film was preceded by very little promotions and hype (to the extent that many were not even aware of the release date of the movie!). Will the movie, which features a bunch of fresh faces, manage to touch a chord with the audience, or shall it go away unnoticed (like it had arrived at the theatres)? Well, it can be said that, while ‘Say Yes To Love’ definitely has its moments, the chances of it emerging as a big winner at the box-office appear slim!
‘Say Yes To Love’ revolves around the life of ‘Vijay’ (Aasad Mirza), a shy and reticent boy, who loves to live in a world of his own. The outer world and societal connections hold no particular attractions for ‘Vijay’, who finds happiness in the little facts of life. He also dreams of becoming a successful man one day. ‘Vijay’ loves the fact that his life is almost totally incident-free and likes to be left alone, so that he can spend as much time as possible with himself. Destiny, however, plays a cruel trick to rob ‘Vijay’ of even these simple pleasures.
Trailer: Say Yes to Love (Hindi, 2012)
One day, ‘Vijay’ is (totally unexpectedly!) physically assaulted and forcibly molested by a local prostitute. This incident leaves a deep scar in the mind of young ‘Vijay’, who becomes all the more reclusive and seeks refuge in an imaginary castle that he makes up for himself (and where no one is permitted to gain access). More importantly, the unfortunate incident also takes away all the beliefs that ‘Vijay’ had in the purity and virtues of love and romance. Indeed, as he grows up, his feeling of unpleasantness and dread when in the company of any young girl simply keeps on getting more intense. Just when it seems that ‘Vijay’ has lost all capabilities to be able to ever love another fellow-being, things take another turn (this time, for the better!).
In a chance encounter, ‘Vijay’ comes across the frank and outspoken (and pretty!) ‘Sarah Jones’ (Nazia Hussain). As has become his wont, ‘Vijay’, at first, gives ‘Sarah’ the cold shoulder and tries to avoid her at all possible junctures. However, ‘Sarah’ (who had developed a distinct liking for ‘Vijay’ from their very first meeting!) simply refuses to let go. She makes the young man tell her about his problems and, being a determined young lady herself, makes up her mind that she would patiently try to dispel all the mental blocks and fears that ‘Vijay’ had developed over his formative years. With the passage of time, ‘Vijay’, with the help of ‘Sarah’, manages to start shedding his inhibitions. The rest of the film relates how ‘Sarah’ brings back ‘Vijay’ to complete normalcy and how the latter finally opens up and says ‘yes to love’.
The basic premise of ‘Say Yes To Love’ is intriguing enough and the commendable performances of Aasad Mirza and (to a lesser extent!) Nazia Hussain help to prop up the movie to a certain extent. The former, in the author-backed role of ‘Vijay’, pitches in with a restrained, understated performance that fits the requirements of his character quite nicely. For a newcomer (Mirza makes his acting debut with this film), his expressions and histrionic capabilities are pretty good. The actor makes the trauma that his character is forced to go through owing to that one tragic incident look entirely believable onscreen and viewers (the few of them who were actually present at the theatre, at least!) would certainly appreciate the sincere performance of this new star on the block.
‘Nazia Hussain’, as the strong-willed ‘Sarah Jones’, pitches in with a pretty decent performance too. The romantic feelings that she nurtures for ‘Vijay’ and her exasperation at being repeatedly ignored by the man whom she adores are portrayed rather efficiently in the movie by this young actress. However, Hussain’s dialog delivery could certainly do with a little bit of improvement. Her character also appears to be slightly overbearing in the second half of the movie (particularly in comparison with the meek and timid ‘Vijay’!) and this can come across as slightly irritating for the viewers. Unlike the leading man, ‘Hussain’s character is not developed either and that does not help her cause in the film either.
The performances of the other actors in ‘Say Yes To Love’ are nothing to write home about, however. Only Aditya Raj Kapoor manages to proper justice to his role. Saira Mirza is irritating and way over-the-top. Danish Sheikh, in a comparatively small role, looks disinterested and sleepwalks through his part. The others do not have roles of much significance and neither do they manage to capture the attention of the viewers.
‘Say Yes To Love’ also suffers from slack treatment of the main plot, which, on paper, looked interesting enough. Production values are simply not at par with present standards (which, admittedly, are rather high!) and the screenplay is inconsistent too, which makes the audience lose interest in the film after some time. The movie starts off on a fine note but never really tackles the subject of forceful child-molestation properly and remains content with simply scraping the surface of the problem. The humour in the movie mostly seems forced and do not generate any genuine mirth among the audience. Director Marukh Mirza Beig decides to treat a serious issue in a light, flippant manner, which does not quite work out in favour of the movie.
For a film of this genre, ‘Say Yes To Love’ also seems to be too long. The unimaginative narrative does nothing to help matters either and editor Sanjay Jaiswal could definitely have done a better job. In particular, the 20 minutes or so leading up to the interval are more or less redundant to the main plot of the film (in fact, it hampers the narrative quite a bit!). Deepak Duggal’s camerawork has room for improvement too, although he tries his best to give a sophisticated look to this low-budget flick.
The music of ‘Say Yes To Love’ is thoroughly unremarkable as well (never a good news for any Bollywood film!). None of the tunes composed by music director Jatin Pandit are worth a special mention and the songs certainly do not stay with the viewers once the movie is over. It’s rather sad to see such accomplished singers like Sonu Nigam and Shaan lending their voices to some of the most ordinary songs of recent times. A better soundtrack would have helped in the promotions of the movie as well.
On the whole, the effort of director Marukh Mirza Beig of trying to handle a serious and pertinent issue in his very first film is definitely worth a round of applause. However, his treatment of the story is certainly not up to scratch and the movie is further hampered by loose editing, inconsistent performances, tacky sets and a mundane musical score. Aasad Khan and Nazia Hussain try their best but do not manage to rise above the strictly average (one might even say poor!) script of the film.
‘Say Yes To Love’ had every potential to be an interesting and sensitive tale. Instead, in actuality, the movie turns out to be a relatively drab affair!