Although Sarat Chandra Chatterjee wrote Parineeta in 1914, the movie adaptation of his classic novel is a period drama set in 60s Calcutta. As vibrant and lively as the Indian city and era, director Pradeep Sarkar's film revolves around a love triangle that springs up between childhood friends turned lovers Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) and Lolita (Vidya Balan), and suave older man Girish (Sanjay Dutt). Full of integrity and old world charm, this is one Bollywood romance that doesn't over indulge in melodrama.
While poles apart in status, orphan Lolita (Balan) and rich kid Shehkar (Khan) help each other realise their dreams: his to be a successful musician and hers to repay her uncle's kindness for adopting her. But in 60s Bengali society a blatant show of affection outside of marriage is not the done thing, so it's left to the audience to witness the pair's burning desire and await a spanner in the works. Enter Girish (Sanjay Dutt), a businessman whose arrival from London adds some spice to the plot.
From the exquisite sets and costumes to the wonderful music, it's obvious Sarkar and his team have paid great attention to detail in order to recreate the period feel. Handling the subject matter with sensitivity and restraint, Sarkar never lets any of the leads lapse into histrionics and coaxes splendid performances from Khan, Dutt and newcomer Balan. The result is a fine example of how Bollywood is capable of producing mature love stories without sacrificing the entertainment factor.
Music: Shantanu Moitra
In Hindi with English subtitles.