Very few movies have poetic feel to them. The 2007 movie ‘Saawariya’ was one of it.
Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story – White Nights, Saawariya is a tale of a recluse stranger in search of love and a girl in wait of love. When their paths cross, love is about to blossom. Unrequited love stories have their own beauty and the beauty lies in its sorrow, separation, tears and melancholy. Be it the ‘The English Patient’ or ‘Lootera’, the theme of tragic love is common in them. The premise of this story is set in a fairy tale like city where there is no hurry, chaos or hatred. In this fairy tale like city arrives Ranbir Raj an aspiring but jobless musician who is in search of a rental accommodation. He befriends a prostitute named Gulabji. Unlike others, Ranbir treats Gulabji like a friend. On Gulabji’s reference, Ranbir manages to get an accommodation at a house of an old lady named Lilian.
While roaming on a dark night, Ranbir stumbles upon a beautiful girl on a bridge waiting for someone. A damsel in distress, the girl on the bridge is chased by a mad woman. The girl on the bridge seeks refuge and help from Ranbir. Ranbir rescues her from the mad woman. Ranbir and the girl strike a bond on the lonely night. Here he discovers that her name is Sakina and she stays with her blind grandmother. Ranbir is smitten by her natural beauty and innocence. Love blossoms in heart of Ranbir.
Though Ranbir and Sakina keep meeting like love birds, there is only a bonding of friendship between them. Ranbir tries to confess his love to Sakina but discovers later that she is in love with someone else and is waiting for his return so that they can get married. Hearing this, Ranbir decides to part away from Sakina.
Sakina has no clue about her lover’s return. Ranbir promises to search for her lover.Despite several attempts, Ranbir is unable to trace the whereabouts of Sakina’s lover. In this midst, Ranbir has a faint hope that Sakina may reciprocate to his love.
When Sakina realizes that there is no point of return of her love, she decides to reciprocate to Ranbir’s emotions. By a strange unfortunate irony, Sakina’s lover returns and now Sakina’s emotions are torn between Ranbir and her long lost love.
Realizing her dilemma, Ranbir big heartedly bids farewell to Sakina. Sakina connects with her love. In these four nights of friendship, Ranbir’s world changes when he meets Sakina. Now he is all alone. His days and nights are lonely again.
The hopeless, aspiring loner is back to his melancholy
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story ‘White nights’ is timeless in it. Director Sanjay Bhansali picked this short story as subject for the musical love story he was about to direct. Embellished with magnificent sets, stunning art direction, melodious soundtrack and a soulful performance, Saawariya was a critical let down. This visually engaging tragic love story is times ahead in terms of storytelling. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor made their debut with this timeless love story. Sonam’s portrayal as Sakina is unforgettable and there is a nostalgic feel to her innocent face. Ranbir’s role as the melancholic musician will win your heart. The heart breaking moment in the movie is the climax where Ranbir lets Sakina go with her long lost lover. It is difficult for a man to see his love in someone’s arms. Saawariya is a memorable movie that is not formulaic filled with typical and clichéd Bollywood drama. What appealed to me in this movie was the larger than life performance of veteran actress Zohra Sehgal as the old lady Lilian. This was one of the last soulful performances of Zohra Sehgal.
This article is not a review, but reminiscence of a heartbreaking love story faded away from the minds of people. Motion pictures like Saawariya are made only once. The word ‘Saawariya’ is derived from the word ‘Saanwra’ which means dark complexioned. Lord Krishna is sometimes addressed as Saawariya. Even Radha had to wait long for return of her lord Krishna. Sometimes one lifetime is not enough to experience the joy of love. Saawariya is about waiting in love for several lifetimes.
For those who have penchant for tragic romances, Saawariya is a visual engaging experience that will stay in their minds for eternity.