The role of art, while holding a mirror to life, is to help one get closer to the self. It then has the power to help one heal, forgive and become free from the shackles we might unknowingly tie ourselves in...
Zubaan (meaning tongue) is essentially a finding-yourself-after-losing-yourself 115-minute tale but thankfully not in a cliched way. In fact music and singing, an overarching theme of the film, wafts in parts and not the whole.
Vicky Kaushal, best known for his debut in the recent gem Masaan, is back as Dilsher/Harpreet, a coming-of-age boy from Gurdaspur. His father was a kirtan singer in the gurudwara before he lost his hearing, subsequent connect with god and eventually with life. While the film doesn't let in much on this aspect of the story, in the second half, it fleetingly lets the viewer into a deaf person's world.
While losing a loved one at a young age traumatises young Harpeet, growing up he idolises the man, real estate tycoon Gurcharan Sikand (Manish Chaudhari), who gave him the most important lesson of life in childhood. He carries the gifted pen as a searchlight to get closer to him, making the journey from Gurdaspur to Delhi, from childhood to adulthood, from Harpreet to Dil-sher (lion-hearted), from security personnel to general manager... (Interestingly the film is a Wave Cinemas and Ponty Chadha presentation. Chadha is a controversial businessman who built a multi-crore conglomerate and was shot by his brother in 2012.)
Dias is a rich city-girl hipster whose outfits are more of a showcase for the boho-chic style. But she doesn't do much in the film except smoke up, grieve her dead brother, sing her 'art' ad-jingle style in pretty locales, or remind Dilsher that the only time he doesn't stammer is when he sings.
The casting is good. Chanana as the unwanted, insecure son pulls off a good performance, as does Meghna Malik as the hard-nosed society lady with skeletons in the closet.
The film offers a fairly sophisticated insight into the ever-evolving human nature: complex, selfish, political, ambitious, kind, dishonest, insecure, jealous, sensitive...
There are faint shades of Imtiaz Ali/Ranbir Singh's Rockstar, but Zubaan's storyline and performances are far more mature, nuanced and not as much focussed on music even though it's about a young singer too.
In Zubaan, the call for azadi (freedom) is not related to the country, but from the self.
Debutant director Mozez Singh almost gets it with this one.
Director: Mozez Singh
Cast: Vicky Kaushal, Manish Chaudhari, Sarah Jane Dias, Raaghav Chanana
Rating: 3.5 / 5