Qarib Qarib Singlle, starring Irrfan Khan and Parvathy, revisits that familiar premise of a romance kindled over a road trip. To be fair though, it’s done with some degree of flair and much levity. Featuring a winning performance from its leading man, the film corroborates the popularly held view that just about anything is considerably improved by the presence of Irrfan in it.
He’s a real hoot as Yogi, a 40-year-old bachelor and self-styled Urdu poet, who has a story for every occasion, and always ready with a quip. He’s the sort of chap that takes a little getting used to.
Jaya (Parvathy) has been married before, but it’s been a while since she was with someone romantically. So long, in fact, that her friends joke she might turn into a virgin again. Reluctantly she signs up with an online dating site through which she meets Yogi. Unsure what to make of him, she treads carefully, but subsequently agrees to travel with him to visit three of his ex-girlfriends, whom he’s convinced continue to pine for him.
Sure it’s an improbable scenario, but co-writer and director Tanuja Chandra creates authentic, charming leads that aren’t hard to connect with. These are real people, adults with life experience, past relationships, and a mature worldview. They’re a joy to spend time with as they journey to Varanasi, then on to Jaipur and Gangtok, all along the way revealing more of themselves to us and to each other. There are laughs, there is squabbling, there are charming conversations about food, and a running joke about him falling asleep mid-conversation on the phone.
The film benefits enormously from crackling dialogue by Gazal Dhaliwal, and Irrfan’s gift for delivering lines as if he came up with them in the moment. He’s in excellent form, playing Yogi both as a relentless joker, and when required as a man with considerable depth. It’s one of his loosest, most relaxed performances.
He’s complemented nicely by Parvathy, who plays Jaya as messy, complex, and occasionally selfish. It’s a refreshing change from your average Hindi film heroine, and Parvathy invests her with an irresistible Everywoman quality. The few occasions that the film pushes her to play ‘cutesy’ don’t ring true, and a long scene in which she becomes unhinged and insecure while high on sleeping pills is excruciating to witness.
Nevertheless, these are minor speedbumps. The film employs honesty and humor to make important observations about letting go of the past and about making a real connection with someone. Yogi and Jaya won my heart, and I wouldn’t have minded spending more time in their company. I’m going with three out of five for Qarib Qarib Singlle. Give it a chance.
Rating: 3 / 5