By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Noor”; Director: Sunhil Sippy; Cast: Sonakshi Sinha, Purab Kohli, MK Raina, Kanan Gill, Shibani Dandekar, Smita Tambe, Rating: ***1/2
Adapted from Saba Imtiaz’s novel, “Karachi, you are killing me”, Sunhil Sippy’s “Noor” is about Noor Roy Chowdhury, a 28-year-old Mumbai-based journalist who lives with her father and a snooty cat, Dimpy.
A junior correspondent with a broadcast news agency, Buzz, Noor is idealistic and unhappy with her humdrum and uneventful life. She is keen to do meaningful stories that concern the common man rather than interview the likes of film stars Sunny Leone. Her two childhood friends Saad and Zara, who dote on her are her support system.
The urge to change her mundane life, make a name for herself and “break” a story as a journalist, lead the well-intentioned Noor to investigate a story further, that she inadvertently stumbles upon courtesy her domestic help, Malti. The repercussions of this story prove to be dramatic and life-changing for Noor, as she rediscovers herself and realises her responsibilities as a journalist.
Noor is a feel-good, contemporary film for urban India, which is well-made and addresses several issues that plague big cities like Mumbai with the protagonist Noor as a catalyst. The writing is praiseworthy and the narrative never loses focus although certain situations appear a bit unreal where the director takes a few liberties – Noor turning into an influencer and citizen activist overnight.
The first half of the film is racy and keeps you engrossed, while the second half drags in parts. Thankfully, the film is devoid of unnecessary violence or melodrama.
Director Sunhil Sippy has dexterously woven the life and aspirations of a journalist as well as the issues plaguing big metros. The dialogues by Ishita Moitra Udhwani, laced with wry humour and at times hard-hitting with messages, are definitely a highlight. The characters are well-etched and abound in conviction.
Sonakshi Sinha shines as the good-at-heart and earnest journalist with a conscience, seeking love in her personal life and accolades in her profession. She is a treat to watch as she essays her character with complete sincerity and ease. She exudes the right attitude and brings in the precise amount of sensitivity to her portrayal. Whether she stumbles clumsily over things or is guilt-ridden over a story gone wrong, she is convincing all the way.
Purab Kohli in a cameo as Ayan, the suave photo-journalist, performs competently. Stand-up comedian Kanan Gill in a new avatar, as Saad, Noor’s London-based restaurateur, childhood buddy, transforms himself into the caring and dependable friend effortlessly and leaves an impact.
Shibani Dandekar as her DJ friend Zara, is equally natural. In his limited screen time, veteran actor MK Raina portrays the caring but distracted father with flair. Smita Tambe, as Malti, the domestic worker, deserves a mention for her realistic portrayal.
The cinematography by Keiko Nakahara is brilliant and captures Mumbai city and Noor’s turmoil with equal candour. The film boasts of excellent production quality and aesthetically, there is a method in Noor’s madness, both at home and at work.
The songs by Amaal Mallik, especially “Uff ye Noor”, are pleasant and mesh seamlessly in the narrative without appearing forced.
Overall, the minor lapses in the portrayal of journalism as a profession, notwithstanding, ‘Noor’ is an enjoyable, breezy film which pivots around strong issues but is light-hearted too.