INDIA. It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. While living in the COVID-19 times hasn’t been easy for anyone, the one positive thing that one can think of is that it has provided people the time to think and contemplate upon things that they usually seldom had time for. With cinema halls closed indefinitely people have had time to watch movies they missed watching earlier. One such film is Onir’s Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz which has been enjoying a resurgence of sorts on Netflix. Many cinema lovers have discovered the film on the streaming platform over the last 4 months. Onir shared the same in a tweet wherein he also thanked one of his fans.
Now, I fondly remember first watching Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz ahead of its release back in 2018. While the film does bear Onir’s signature, there is something about it that makes it a very unique film in his oeuvre. Set in Kolkata, the film tells the story of two lonely individuals who accidentally come in contact with each other when one of them dials a wrong number. The guy is a shy individual named Alfaaz while the girl named Archana aka Archie works for an agency that generates memes and although she suffers from a congenital skin condition she believes in living her life to the fullest. What ensues is a series of conversations between the shy Alfaaz and the fun-loving Archie; at first they exchange text messages but gradually they start calling each other up.
But unbeknownst to Archana, the bond between her and Alfaaz runs much deeper. Every night at 10, the city of Kolkata tunes into radio to listen to the programme ‘Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz’ on 92.7 BIG FM. Just like everyone else in the city, it is Archie’s favorite programme. The show is hosted by none other than Alfaaz, who, haunted by a tragic past, prefers to keep his identity a secret. How will Archie react when she finally learns that her chat buddy is none other than RJ Alfaaz himself?
Onir, the only openly gay filmmaker in the industry, is known for making films that have touched upon debates surrounding sexuality in a most sensitive manner. While ‘My Brother… Nikhil’ focuses on the issue of hardship and humiliation faced by AIDS patients, ‘Bas Ek Pal’ deals with the complexity of human relationships.’ I Am’, on the other hand, is a collection of four short stories exploring themes as diverse as motherhood, homosexuality, and child abuse. His 2017 film ‘Shab’ is a dark brooding treatise on the opportunistic relationships in the underbelly of the Delhi’s elite social circles.
In Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, he explores the possibility of friendship and love between two complete strangers who are connected though social media. Produced by Yoodlee Films, a venture of Saregama, Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is based on a screenplay by Abhishek Chatterjee. The film stars the National Award-winning actress Geetanjali Thapa, Zain Khan Durrani, and Shray Tiwari in the pivotal roles.
Having closely followed Onir’s body of work over the years, I have always found his films to be far more intimate than his contemporaries. But after watching Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, I got convinced beyond doubt that amongst the Indian filmmakers alive and making films today, Onir is capable of handling the complexities of human relationships the best, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Now, Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is not a straightforward film. It slowly unravels like some puzzle. The film is likely to confound the average viewer looking for a straightforward love story. It is a film that may require some time to fully absorb. Here is a film that can actually serve as a unique case study for those looking to devise new means of online couples counseling.
Watch the trailer of Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz here
The mature screenplay by Abhishek Chatterjee asks some very pertinent questions. Have you ever been in love? What was it that got you attracted to your lover in the first place? Was it physical appearance? Or was it some personality trait? What does beauty mean to you? Raj Kapoor had endeavored to explore these questions in his 1978 film Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Four decades later, Onir’s Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz too dares to ask similar questions about love and beauty. A lot has changed in these forty years but the human longing for companionship is still pretty much the same.
Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is beautifully shot by Nusrat F. Jafri and seamlessly edited by Irene Dhar Malik. Shashwat Srivastava’s music immensely adds to the film’s poignant beauty. The soulful performances by Geetanjali Thapa and Zain Khan Durrani are the movie’s major highlight. Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz is not meant for casual viewing but if you are looking for something deep and meaningful then you are encouraged to take the plunge. Perhaps, you will not find many better films about companionship than Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz to watch during the COVID-19 times.