At the end of Love Songs: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a song tells us that Love can be Heaven, Love can be hell.
Actually so can the movies. Love Songs is the kind of film that must have sounded great in script sessions. Jaya Bachchan plays Mridula Chatterjee, a feisty grandmother, universally known as Nanz. In her youth, Nanz fell in love with a college mate, who introduced her to the pleasures of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Begum Akhtar.
But poetry sessions in coffee houses were thwarted because he was Muslim. Separated by their families, the lovers were forced into loveless marriages. Nanz grew old, running an NGO, battling with her headstrong, emotionally distraught daughter and raising her grandson. Her lover grew old watching his alcoholic wife dissipate with drink.
Years later, when Nanz?s grandson insists on knowing more about his dead mother and about this man nanz loved, she reveals her deepest secrets.This could have been a poignant tale of love and longing but instead it is a clunky, amateurish bore.
I?m not sure why so many Bengali directors are making films in English but until that mystery is solved we have to suffer lines like: Boom, boom, boom she?s taken so many punches from life. Writer-director-lyricist Jaybrato Chatterjee pens many more such gems, liberally bunging in poetry from Faiz, Momin, and lines from Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.
The film?s literary pretensions have little effect because the acting is comical. Jaya Bachchan frowns too hard but she still manages to imbue her character with dignity and spirit. The rest veer between hysterically bad and just plain hysterical.
For reasons unknown, Jaybrato puts the stunning Mallika Sarabhai into a weird wig and green contact lenses and transforms her into Salma Agha having a bad day.
When Nanz finally meets her old lover, the sound track breaks into Momin?s classic: woh jo hum mein tum mein karar tha, tumhen yaad ho kin a yaad ho. I gave up hope at that point.
Enter the theater at your own risk.