September 13, 2002 
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Sur: A melodious tune
Music and Lucky Ali make the film worth watching

Anita Bora

It is said that 'music does not a movie make'. But if it did have to bank on just its music, Sur -- The Melody of Life has already scored high marks. To director Tanuja Chandra's credit, the film is boosted by performances from the actors.

Singer Lucky Ali makes a comeback with this film (his debut was Shyam Benegal's Trikaal in 1985), while Gauri Karnik makes her film debut. Sur deals with a teacher's journey to find his best student and the subsequent dilemma he faces when he finds one who threatens to overshadow him.

Karnik who has graced Indian television earlier in serials like Little Mirchi, Thoda Pepper, plays Goan choir singer Tina Maria. Blessed with a magical voice, Tina is discovered, quite accidentally, by a middle-aged singer and teacher Vikramaditya Singh (Lucky Ali). Vikram has already gained his name and fame, but is still in search of his elusive heir.

When he hears Tina, he realises he has found someone worth his dream and legacy. Only, he does not realise he is not yet ready to hand over the reins to someone else. He becomes extremely attached to his young student, but he is beset by the very human feelings of jealousy, anger and suspicion.

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As the music teacher, Lucky Ali slips comfortably into his role. Emoting largely with his eyes (which is so rare in Hindi movies), his style is a welcome change. Sparing us over-the-top histrionics, he conveys the mixed feelings of joy, pride and then jealousy convincingly. More popular as a music figure, doubts about his success on screen are laid to rest as this role seems tailor-made for him.

With his naturally sad and droopy eyes, he cuts a tragic picture without too many words. However, his loose baggy suits with long overflowing coats in different shades of brown (which he dons for most of the movie), seems an over-the top effort to make him look middle-aged.

As Tina's talent begins to flower, Vikram can no longer bear the fact that his young ward is overshadowing him. He even stoops to stealing one of Tina's tunes and passing it off as his own. Tina's subsequent confusion, anger and helplessness is conveyed well in the song Aa bhi jaa where Vikram publicly humiliates her.

Gauri Karnik, Lucky Ali in Sur An onlooker to this entire incident is Vikram's friend Divya (Simone Singh). She not only helps run his music school in Ooty (a hill-station in Tamil Nadu), she has also been in love with the star.

Crushed, Tina leaves the school. Unable to come to terms with his despicable act, Vikram refuses to stop her. He finally accepts his actions when Tina's sister Rita (Divya Dutta) thanks Vikram for his selfless act of grooming Tina. Meanwhile, convinced that she cannot sing any more, Tina decides to become a nun. When Vikram finds out, he tries to talk her out of it. Despite his confessions and apologies, Tina still finds herself without self-confidence.

Divya, realising the depth of Vikram's love for his pupil, encourages him to do whatever his heart tells him to win back her confidence. And Vikram asks Tina to sing a song at his concert.

Does Vikram manage to convince her to sing again? Can he make the ultimate personal sacrifice in doing so?

To the writer-director's credit, the film keeps its focus on Vikram and Tina. The romantic overtone is kept minimal, focusing more on the strong teacher-pupil relationship. It then goes on to explore Vikram's conflicting emotions as he realises there is someone better than him.

Karnik makes a positive impact in her first leading role. Initially portrayed as a nervous teenager trying to come to terms with her talent, she blossoms into her own when her teacher encourages her. The song Dil mein jaage dhadkan aise reflects the character of Tina --- young, upbeat and perky. Apparently, Karnik learnt how to the play the violin for three months so that her moves did not look contrived.

Lucky Ali in Sur The supporting cast --- Simone Singh, Divya Dutta, Harsh Vashisht and Achint Kaur (as chain-smoking record company creative head) --- also make their presence felt.

M M Kreem and Nida Fazli come up with good compositions and lyrics, including the catchy Dil mein jaage, the soulful Khoya hai tune jo ae dil, and the theme song Aa bhi jaa, well rendered in the voices of Lucky Ali and Sunidhi Chauhan. The choir song is sung by Marijke Desouza, while Mahalaxmi ably brings the film to an end with Kabhi sham dhale. Notable also is the violin duet between Tina and Vikram.

Sur may not be rousing fare for the front-benchers, but it is a worthy attempt at exploring love and jealousy from a fresh angle. The film does a good job of taking you through the three hours without the usual hero-heroine singing-around-the-trees routine.

Though the ending leaves you unsatisfied. After the build-up, music and emotions, the film ends abruptly.

Backed by good music, Chandra's film has a fresh approach and is a mark above the usual fare found these days.

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