Notebook(2019) Movie Review | Too long to classify as an advertisement served in Public Interest.
The movie I went to see early this week was — Notebook.
Notebook(2019): “That” particular narrative regarding the Kashmir Valley
The narrative that —
The primary reason for the Kashmir issue is the reluctance of the Kashmiri Muslims to take part in the confidence building measures run by the Government of India. For example, encouraging school education in the remotest corners of the Kashmir Valley.
The movie Notebook speaks about the encouragement of school education in the remote villages in the valley, and uses two protagonists Kabir(Zaheer Iqbal), a former army officer who takes a job as a teacher at a remote school in Kashmir, to make some sense of his life; and Firdaus (Pranutan Bahl), who was sent there as a punishment transfer. While there, Kabir discovers a notebook from the previous teacher, and soon finds himself falling in love with a woman he has never met (Firdaus).
I will not spoil the thrill of the movie by revealing the plot. So that’s it.
Notebook (2019), from Salman Khan Films
Notebook is a Salman Khan Films production. It is directed by Nitin Kakkar. It is a debut movie for both Zaheer Iqbal(Kabir) and Pranutan Bahl(Firdaus).
Pranutan Bahl is the daughter of film actor, Mohnish Bahl and grand-daughter of actor Nutan.
If one is attentive enough, and somehow misses the written credits, then the very first few frames of the movie are a give-away that it is a Salman Khan Films movie. There are high drone like wide shots of snow clad mountains along with a background music which sounds somewhat familiar, particularity when you have seen Bajrangi Bhaijaan(2015).
The movie has too many flashbacks.
The first half of the movie seems entirely devoted to establishing the characters.
The second half of the movie tries to bring in some conclusive message, although it doesn’t succeed much in doing that.
It is the “Narrative” which fails Notebook(2019)
The movie is woven around a narrative that the Muslims in Kashmir valley don’t support the “universal school education” efforts of the Government of India.
At multiple instances in the movie one hears about some bigger “Goal” of Muslims in Kashmir valley. For example, when asked why a family doesn’t send their child to school, the father of the boy says the child has to live or die for a “much bigger cause”. The movie doesn’t really tell what the cause really is.
The movie plot uses symbols such as — A Lotus flower drawing from the school days of Kabir Kaul, a Hindu; Firdaus, a Muslim.
The movie plot also uses an incident from the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Valley in late 80s and early 90s. In one scene, Muslim mobs are shown gate crashing Pandit Kaul’s house (Kabir’s late father) rescued by a Muslim servant.
In another scene, one sees a Kashmiri student being bullied by Hindus in Jammu.
Overall, after watching the movie, one gets the lingering feeling that the movie wants to say something conclusively but never manages to say it. It weaves numerous sub-plots to implicitly convey the message, but for some reason avoids the message every time it tries to convey it. It is difficult to say whether or not it was a conscious attempt on part of the movie makers.
The protagonists’ motivations for continuing or returning back to their life’s calling seemed rather out of line.
Inconclusiveness of the movie Notebook Fails it
It seems that the movie is somewhat stuck between a short film (because it is open to multiple conclusions or may be wrong conclusions) and; a documentary (because it wants to portray Kashmir issue in the light of recent historic events but it fails to do so).
The movie seems all over the place. It talks about, inclusiveness, Confidence Building measures, Kashmiriat (the mixed inclusive Kashmiri culture), inter-religious love plot, ordinary problems of ordinary people etc. But in the end, it proves no more than one pushing a particular “Narrative” — The Kashmiri Muslims do not want to take part in the confidence building measures run by the Government of India, not even the Indian Govt.’s efforts of encouraging school education in the remotest corners of the Kashmir Valley.
Will it be correct to call the movie an advertisement issued in Public Interest?
It can be. But it is a long advertisement.
Notebook(2019) : My Opinion
The lead actors look convincing in their characters. They must be congratulated. Other actors, including the child actors, have given good performances as well.
The music is not particularly memorable. The songs seem unnecessary.
Salman Khan fans and anyone who is content with a feel good movie can watch Notebook.