A Note to Kashmir
Nitin Kakar’s Notebook starring Pranutan Bahl and Zaheer Iqbal is a sweet and sensitive story of education, innocence and love.
In picturesque Kashmir, a small dilapidated school situated in the middle of a lake is home to a committed school teacher Firdaus played by Pranutan Bahl. She appears though, through the words in her diary she leaves behind, in scribblings on pillars before the next teacher Kabir Kabul played by Zaheer Iqbal takes over the school and leafs through her notebook.
Stuck in a school that has zero amenities- no mobile network, no technology, a space that is far flung from habitation, Kabir finds solace in the words of the notebook Firdaus has left behind.
Slowly, the narrative builds up to become a good ground for old-fashioned romance that bases itself in the picturesque lake school. The story might sound anachronistic but works brilliantly in its space. It is old world, idealistic, innocent and makes a case for education.
Pranutan Bahl in a restrained role plays Firdaus the teacher to perfection. A rebel, who challenges set norms, she is like a silent gun that triggers progressive thought – with great patience and perseverance, without melodrama. The boys in her class make food for the girls is a quiet statement about her character in the film.
Zaheer Iqbal plays the army man turned teacher who is on a self- journey finds himself in the school in Kashmir. His relationship with the students that grows from being hostile to loving dots the graph of his character as well. His expressive light eyes light up the screen and he shakes a leg to Bhummro, in the original Kashmiri.
The apple-cheeked students, the creaky wooden school, their innocent antics, make it an endearing tale. Most of all, some brilliant cinematography by Manoj Kumar Khatoi makes it a beautiful, easy watch.