Parineeta is an extremely well-made, classy love story. It deals with the age-old theme of love but its different in the sense that its a love story whose characters never express their love. The movie relies on its characters bottling up their emotions inside their hearts and manages to touch our hearts in the process.
Shekar(Saif Ali Khan), a music composer, and Lolita(Vidya Balan) have been friends since childhood. They both sense that their feelings for the other have been transformed from friendship but are reluctant to express them. Meanwhile, Lolita’s uncle has mortgaged their house to Shekar’s father, who is a businessman first and a friend next. Girish (Sanjay Dutt), the London-born brother of a family friend, seems like a knight in shining armor when he offers solutions to Lolita’s problems.
Parineeta is proof that its the way a story is handled rather than the story itself that matters in the end. The movie's story is a familiar love triangle with familiar elements(like childhood friends becoming lovers a la Piriyaadha Varam Vendum). But the movie still seems fresh because of the way the love stories are handled. The romance between Saif and Vidya and Sanjay Dutt's feelings for Vidya are both understated and handled with class. While the former makes us smile with the pair's unspoken feelings, the latter makes us smile with some sweet moments.
The movie wouldn't have been as successful if it handled just the romance well. Almost every key scene in the film has multiple layers of emotions as people put on a façade to hide their true feelings, be it happiness, love, anger or jealousy. But the director lets the audience understand these through the actors’ smiles, expressions and body language rather than spelling them out. So the movie is always restrained but still very emotional because of the realization that some strong emotions are bubbling just under the surface.
For a movie whose characters did such a good job of internalizing emotions, the climax is disappointingly loud. With Saif breaking down a wall and the people around him cheering him on, the sequence seemed more suited for an underdog-turns-winner sports story rather than a mellow love story.
Saif Ali Khan puts in a very mature performance as the hot-headed man unable to deal with either his love or his jealousy the right way. Vidya Balan looks gorgeous in some scenes and rather pale in others. But she has very expressive eyes and puts them to good effect, especially when she is angry but unable to express it in words. Sanjay Dutt is dignified though his droopy eyes make him look like he has a hangover when the effect he is probably going for is sadness. The most loveable actor though is the one who plays Vidya’s uncle. His naiveté and innocence are very endearing and his whole face seems to light up when expressing happiness. There are a few scenes, where he expresses joy unmindful of the other person's feelings, that are just superb. The actor playing Saif’s father is perfectly cast too and has an air of sophisticated villainy.
This is the first Hindi film in a long time where I haven’t fast-forwarded the songs. The numbers blend perfectly into the film and the lyrics are situational and apt too. Though I haven't heard the songs before, they all seemed very catchy and pleasing to the ear. The movie also looks gorgeous with its lavish settings and extravagant costumes.