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NOTEBOOK - An average adaptation that still remains an appreciable, well-shot attempt to bring the subtle romance back on screen. (Review by Bobby Sing)

29 Mar, 2019 | Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases / ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / N

Making films such as FILMISTAAN, MITTRON and RAMSINGH CHARLIE (unreleased), director Nitin Kakkar has always been associated with great to good projects in the past. And that is the reason I was expecting something fresh in his latest NOTEBOOK too in terms of subtle romance as indicated by its impressive trailer featuring two promising debutants. 

However, surprisingly the film turns out to be an interesting yet average attempt, not able to make any kind of major impact on the viewers despite its noteworthy merits. 

Officially adapted from a Thai film TEACHER’S DIARY revolving around two teachers coming in turns to teach in an unusual school of just 7 kids, NOTEBOOK has certainly got the appeal in its innocent portrayal by the lead couple as well as the sweet, adorable group of kids. But its strongest feature remains the cinematography, beautifully capturing the waterscapes of Kashmir and the floating school in the middle of a lake offering many stunning, breath-taking visuals like never before. In fact, presenting Kashmir with such gorgeous, virgin visuals makes this film a big screen experience for sure despite its other shortcomings in terms of content and the expected romance.
The writers carefully add the backdrop of Kashmir into the storyline along with the references of armed forces, militants and the locals without going into any details or repetitive lecturing. And just like his previous films Nitin intentionally makes a social/political comment in NOTEBOOK too but this time without any comic tone as a more serious & meaningful insertion.
The film also works confidently introducing the two debutants who are both reportedly Salman Khan proteges (the film is a Salman Khan production too). But they are way ahead of any of the debutants presented by Khan till date in his previous productions. Pranutan Bahl (granddaughter of Nutan) has certainly inherited the depth, that ‘thehraaav’ in her expressions taking you back in the time when love was not a ‘let’s try if it works’ kind of engagement. Besides, the girl is quite different from anyone else in her age group that should ideally get noticed by the industry and its key filmmakers at the earliest. On the other hand, Zaheer Iqbal delivers a more than satisfactory act showcasing his skills in fight sequences too along with the emotional ones. And together they put up a more than decent show in their first film.
Reading the praises mentioned above, you must be thinking that if the above all works, then why the film is termed just average as an overall experience. The basic reason for that lies in the adapted storyline itself which never looks convincing with an added subplot of Kashmir and also the mixed school education.

(Spoilers Ahead)
The biggest drawback of NOTEBOOK is that it doesn’t deliver the expected romance as the lovers not even meet each other till the climax. So this is a plot written exactly on the similar lines as we last witnessed in KUCHH BHEEGE ALFAAZ or THE LUNCHBOX and before that in many other Hindi films too, the origin of which goes back to the black and white English classics.
Friends interested in knowing more about those movies can refer to the detailed review of THE LUNCHBOX available at the following link:
And of KUCHH BHEEGE ALFAAZ at the link given below: 
As a result, you actually don’t get to see any romance here to be exact and therefore the sudden love felt for each other just by reading the diary without any exchange of letters, messages or phone calls (as seen in other films) fails to make any kind of emotional connect with the viewers.
Secondly the school sequences don’t look realistic missing the logic with so young students of different classes being taught together by a teacher with no prior experience of teaching. Also, the exams and their checking looks highly unconvincing when the students fail to perform after being taught and inspected by the same person.
Thirdly once again, the music is just okay but nothing outstanding as required by such romantic film missing the melodies staying in your memory for long. The ‘Bhumro’ track mostly kept as the original folk song sounds nice, different from the earlier one heard in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s MISSION KASHMIR, but it doesn’t make any major contribution in the film added as an item number.
Lastly, though the director tries his best to compensate with a message-oriented climax indicating towards the present state of Kashmir and its innocent kids, it still doesn’t impress, since the whole militancy reference always seems to be inserted intentionally, plus the weird vocals in the background score in this specific sequence successfully kills the feel.
On the whole, NOTEBOOK works in its looks and sincerity but not in its feel or depth, missing the essential emotional pull. However, I would still love to praise the film as an honest attempt to bring back the subtle romance on screen, without inserting any forced comedy or action, which has sadly become a rare thing in our present mainstream Hindi cinema made with a typical mindset. Ironically that was the key feature our Hindi films were once known for.
Rating : 2.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for its breath-taking cinematography and the two likable debuts)

Tags : Notebook Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Official adaptations in Hindi Cinema, Inspired from Thai films, Inspired Hindi Films
29 Mar 2019 / Comment ( 0 )
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