The crackling 2009 American rom-com “(500) Days of Summer” claims another set of victims in the makers of “Meri PyaariBindu”, who, like the makers of “Katti Batti”, attempt – unsuccessfully as it turns out – to replicate the inventive, charming nature of that film.
Ayushmann Khurrana plays Abhi, an author of Hindi pulp fiction, who hasn’t quite gotten over his feelings for Bindu (Parineeti Chopra), his childhood friend and first crush, although you’d think time and distance would’ve taken care of that.
First-time director Akshay Roy and his writers stay more or less faithful to the premise of a young man reflecting on his one true love through a series of flashbacks to their time together. But the filmmakers don’t have the confidence to pull off the daring treatment of the original movie. The screenplay of “(500) Days of Summer” went back and forth, even within the flashback structure, acting as a sort of jigsaw puzzle, revealing only bits of information at a time. “Meri Pyaari Bindu” goes for the safe option, rolling out the flashback in chronological order.
Nothing wrong with that except that the plot is wafer-thin. Abhi and Bindu meet as kids in Kolkata when she moves into the house next door. He’s smitten from the moment he sets eyes on her, and theirs grows into the kind of friendship that could survive all manner of odds. But then love and life gets in the way. The story shifts from Kolkata to Bangalore to Mumbai with brief stops in Melbourne and Goa. Not a lot of this feels particularly fresh or original. There are nods to so many other films…from “The Runaway Bride” to “Pyaar Ka Punchnama”. At one point during their relationship the pair decides to create a mix-tape of old Hindi film songs that has meant something in their lives. It’s an interesting idea but it isn’t seen through to the end, and becomes merely an excuse to pepper the soundtrack with classic tunes.
The film is more surefooted in the portions that are set in Kolkata. We get some charming scenes with Abhi and his hilarious Bengali family, to whom he is simply their ‘Bubla’. Ayushmann imbues Abhi with real empathy; it is a performance that is genuinely affecting. Parineeti Chopra, meanwhile, has less to work with. Bindu is great fun to hang out with, but she’s also flighty and fickle. There is little depth to this aspiring singer and despite a sincere performance, Parineeti can’t lift the character above its surface-level writing.
There are moments and sequences in the film that are moving and funny and quietly heartbreaking. But those are few in an overlong film that never quite finds its groove. I’m going with two out of five for “Meri Pyaari Bindu”. It’s an opportunity lost.
Rating: 2 / 5