Rating: 3/4 (Good watch)
Parineeta (परिणीता) is a period romance set in 1960, based on the novel of the same name written by Sharat Chandra Chatterji. The novel deals with class issues, which the screenplay clearly sidesteps and instead creates a romantic drama. Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) and Lalita (Vidya Balan) have been neighbours and close friends since childhood in Calcutta. For years, Lalita has had access to Shekhar's heart and he in turn has given her access to his pocket money. Though Shekhar's dad Naveen is a business tycoon, Shekhar fancies his piano, guitar and Lalita more. Their humdrum friendship is dashed on the entry of Girish (Sanjay Dutt), a family friend of Lalita. He saves her ancestral home from the brink and wins her heart. And in this despair, Shekhar decides to forget Lalita and marry someone else. Is this the end of their love?
If the sleep-inducing songs can be skipped, Parineeta is quite good. Debutante Vidya Balan plays Lalita effortlessly with grace and sensuality. Saif Ali Khan is dashing as Shekhar. Sanjay Dutt, though genial, looks quite old for his role as Girish. The script pulls the right strings maintaining a sense of intrigue all through the movie. Special mention goes to the period look of the movie, which is very nicely done. Though I felt that it looks pre-Independence or older, rather than 1960! Parineeta reeks of similarities to Devdas. Not surprising since both those books were written by Sharat Chandra Chatterji, both are based in Calcutta/Bengal around the same period. Both feature weak and indecisive male protagonists and confident female protagonists. And both Vidhu Vinod Chopra (here in Parineeta) and Sanjay Leela Bhansali (in Devdas) favour the over-the-top look for their movies. Thankfully, Parineeta is far more edible than the excesses of Devdas.