From charms of Kolkatta in Parineeta, to the warm visuals of Varanasi in Laga Chunari mein Daag, Director Pradeep Sarkar next Lafangey Parindey, moves to the Mumbai gallis (streets). Where matchbox sized flats stand side by side to sprawling towers, dandiya is celebrated with, as much gusto as govinda dance during Ganpati festivals and dreams are bigger than the pockets.
In a chawl in the bylanes of Mumbai resides Nandan Kamtekar aka one-shot-nandu (Neil NM) and his gang of loafers, who going by Mumbai’s tapori reputation, ride bikes into the dark night, speak Mumbaiyaa slang and wile away time playing carrom or throwing random digs at passer-bys. When not diddling-dawdling around, Nandan wins fights in a boxing ring for bets put by boss Usmaan bhai (Piyush Mishra) (reference check: Salman in Karan Arjun). Nandu’s USP – he fights blindfolded and can take down his strongest opponent with a single blow (that’s why the nickname, for all those who didn’t put it together yet!). Among the lafangeys, lives Pinky Palkar (Deepika Padukone), a free spirited chic co-basti-walli, who lives small, dreams big and aims to win a talent competition as her exit route from the chawl’s humble existence. Working in a shop, she dances on rollerskates like a doll in a music box.
Couple of reels later an accident brings Nandan and Pinky together. Dreams that come crashing down, destinies that are rewritten and odds that are fought together form the remaining story of Lafangey Parindey.
Both leads, whose histrionic skills are questionable, put in engaging performances. Deepika Padukone’s act is effortless. While she is extremely graceful in her dance sequences, she exudes intense confidence as the strongwilled optimist. Neil’s restrained act complements chemistry with Deepika beautifully. Unfortunately, his looks impede the realism as he does not fit into the chawl class at all. No amount of tattered wardrobe and fake blood veil Neil’s golden locks and fair rose complexion. Body language is spot on, body features sadly fail. The scenes where he fights his inner conflicts, initial feelings for lady-love and emotions shown through eyes are the mark of a very promising actor.
Music by R. Anandh, lines by Swanand Kirkire, songs ‘mann lafanga’, ‘dhatad tatad’ are contagious to any true-blue matki-phod mumbaikar.
The biggest strength of the film undoubtedly lies in Gopi Puthran’s simple storytelling. The narrative maintains its horizontal plane with enough twists suitable to its theme, but luckily does not venture the path of unwanted characters and redundant sub-plots.
Hiccups? Yes, heaps of them. Lafangey Parindey is neither a winner nor a loser. The substance is raw, similarities are many, and story is as predictable as it gets, yet between the flaws and grinds is an earnest youthful resonance and a wholesome human experience that celebrates the spirits of underdogs who are down in dust but don’t give up.
Watch it if you can digest a pure masala movie without getting extremely judgemental or making parallels with any other film.
Watch it if you’re a fan of Ms.D, pink-cheek Neil or Pradeep Sarkar.
However, moreso, Watch it because it is an inspirational and poignant tale of any third person amongst us.