Noor Review: An honest, albeit uneven film which increasingly gets away from itself.
Movie Review by Suchin Mehrotra (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Noor is a refreshing, sincere tale but one which suffers from an increasingly meandering narrative, making it difficult to keep invested as it goes on. The film has a lot going for it and offers much to like and enjoy in its stark simplicity and natural setting. However, this eventually gets lost in a shaky narrative and a great deal of tonal inconsistency. What begins as a fun, upbeat, comical tale later gets drowned out in a social drama about journalistic integrity with forced social messaging aplenty.
Based on the Saba Imtiaz’s book, Karachi You’re Killing Me, Noor tells the story of its spunky eponymous character, played by Sonakshi Sinha, the perennially frustrated journalist looking to make something of herself. The film explores her trials of family, career and relationships, backed up by her two best friends Saad (Kanan Gill) and Zara (Shibani Dandekar). Tired of being confined to fluff pieces she sets out looking for a real scoop which leads to dire consequences when she falls upon a dark scandal.
What does work well in Noor is the film’s relatability value and director Sunhil Sippy’s treatment of the titular character. Noor is commendably well-realised rather than the Bollywood-style caricature of a millennial she could well have been. She is quirky, complacent, impatient, charming, flawed and just so real. Much of this is down to Sinha’s endearing performance as she does an admirable job of bringing this oddball, curious existence to life. What’s more, there’s a real arc to her character, such that by the film’s end you do get the feeling that she’s gone through a transformative journey of self-realization and become better for it.
There’s also a very conscious effort in Ishita Moitra’s dialogue to be millennial-friendly with a constant barrage of references and #MillenialProblems thrown at you, no doubt aimed at appealing to the youth, which luckily does work more often than not, particularly in the earlier portions of the film. To the film’s credit, it is difficult not to relate to Noor’s constant complacency as she is just someone trying to make sense of her life and find meaning in a career in an effort to have a real impact on the world. Her undying need to prove herself and make a difference is certainly something many will identify with.
The first half of the film offers a great deal of fun to be had as we explore the world through Noor’s eyes in all her quirky glory with her constant internal monologue on hand to keep things comically engaging. This portion of the film is riddled with many great, memorable moments such as an exchange between Noor and her father where she questions him on why his generation didn’t seek out the same things in life as today’s would.
However, post-interval director Sippy increasingly loses his grip over the narrative as the film shifts gears and takes a far more serious turn. Writers Althea Kaushal, Shikha Sharma and Sunhil Sippy’s stories increasingly gets away from itself, becoming repetitive with plot points drawn out well beyond breaking point such that you find yourself caring less and less as it goes on. Suffice to say it begins to lose steam as it progresses resulting in far too many moments of restlessness as your left trying to understand what exactly the film is attempting to say. Put simply, it would have really done itself a favour by being 30-40 minutes shorter.
What’s more, the focus of the narrative frequently jumps from Noor’s personal story to a wider attempt at addressing the integrity of journalists and the failure of a city and its people – which just doesn’t work as well as it should making for a disorientating and uneven experience.
In its performances, with Noor, Sonakshi Sinha continues her streak of leading films (following last year’s Akira) and she clearly proves that she can carry a film singlehandedly when the narrative permits, of course. In terms of the wider cast, top comic Kanan Gill does well with a pleasant screen presence, added to by the fact that he and Sinha share a charming chemistry. He might just have a future in the movies, this one. The stunning Shibani Dandekar as Zara doesn’t get much screen time but has impact nonetheless as does the underrated Purab Kohli as Noor’s love interest. Special mention of Manish Choudhary as Noor’s editor Shekhar who delivers a particularly impressive performance.
In the end, somewhere in Noor there is a sweet, sincere story about a animatedly endearing girl just trying to make sense of life, career and everything along the way. Too bad it’s covered in a lot of excess and an overwrought plot.