In today’s day and age, where everyone is obsessed with the good morning, good night messages on WhatsApp, Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz has a lot to offer. It successfully manages to show how love in the time of social media can stay relevant. Despite the slow build-up, the film manages to entertain with ease.
What is it about?
Every night at 10, Kolkata (India) tunes into the radio to listen to ‘Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz ‘ – an episodic series of love stories by RJ Alfaaz. Among his many fans is Archana (aka Archie, played by Geetanjali Thapa), a girl with vitiligo. Alfaaz (played by Zain Khan Durrani) who dispenses poetry and advice on this popular daily show is a loner.
Archana is quite the opposite. She is sought to be explained by vitiligo, but she tries to cover her insecurities with her charming, ever ready smile. With tonnes of blind dates on Tinder, Archie incidentally talks to Alfaaz over a misplaced call. Both stay in touch over social media platforms and a friendship blossoms between two strangers until they reveal their true identity to each other.
What is good?
The premise of Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is quite poetic, much like romantic poetry. Based entirely in Kolkata, the film brings the essence of the city to the silver screen. The best part of debutant Abhishek Chatterjee’s writing is the combination of modern and old-school romance. While the story has a certain novelty about it, what is refreshing is the treatment of its lead characters.
Known for making unconventional cinema, director Onir touches upon the idea of love and romance for the generation that spends more time on their phones than people they love. He rejuvenates the portrayal of the old thought of romanticism. Though the romance looks glossy enough, it has Onir’s typical undertone of darkness. As the film winds through the characters’ past and present, story become a little predictable. Yet, Onir does not make any effort to bring in unwanted twists to detract you from the film.
In the acting department, both Durrani and Thapa leave you teary-eyed (especially when Archana reveals her skin condition to Alfaaz). Geetanjali Thapa, who plays Archana, is perhaps one element that will keep you from getting entirely bored. Other notable performances come from Shray Rai Tiwari as Apu (Archana’s best friend), Shefali Chauhan and Mona Ambegaonker who lifts up those silent moments of mother-daughter bonding.
What could be better?
At times, Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz succumbs under the burden of “sher o shayari” and lack the emotional depth. Some usual gimmicks like the doting mother, the best friend in love, the office rivalry, and even a cute dog make us lose out on the core — the love story. No matter how heart touching it gets in many instances, there isn’t much of a plot to stretch over 116 minutes.
How is Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz different from other films?
In a world where there is a lack of representation of vitiligo fighters in popular culture, it’s good to see a leading character who wears her white patches like a badge of honor.
In the film, Archana tries to hide her vitiligo to lead a normal life and finds her soul mate, which is the explanation for the string of meaningless dates with men who judge her for her appearance. She is seen dealing with stares and unkind remarks since her childhood. She continues to defy all norms and cliches in the society. Despite heartbreaks and setbacks in professional life, she does not give up.
With this film, you can notice a change in showbiz’s carved-in-stone beauty standards, where we are finally ready to meet a leading lady fighting a battle of her own. It looks like the movie industry has finally learned how to look beyond perceived standards of beauty. It’s good to watch films that are ready to celebrate some of our more common ‘imperfections’.
Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is not just about mush and unadulterated love. It also explores layers of pain, sorrow, regret, inadequacies, imperfections, and loneliness that are part of everyone’s life. The film is sensible, thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. It teaches you to deal with rejections and not to seek validation from others.
What makes it a must watch for all vitiligo fighter is its relatable narrative. Like most industries around the world, the movie industry, too, has stuck to defined beauty standards over time. However, these standards are being quashed if films like Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz are to be taken into account. Although it’s good to see a leading character with vitiligo, would it be better if an actor dealing with vitiligo was considered for this role? Let me know in the comment section.