Based on Saba Imtiaz's novel, Karachi, You're Killing Me!, Sunhil Sippy's Noor is the story of a journalist who covers freak stories for a broadcast agency. Noor Roychowdhury's (Sonakshi Sinha) work involves walking around Mumbai and reporting stories that are bizarre, sensational, and even absurd.
But like most journalists in their late twenties, Noor is still looking for her big break, the story that would push her up the career ladder. But it's not just her career that's weighing on her, as Noor constantly worries about looking fat, about the lack of men in her life, and terrible hangovers.
As an Indian – or Pakistani, if you go by the novel – of Bridget Jones' Diary, Noor works pretty well. Her less than perfect sense of humour, her running commentary on various events, and her terrible luck with men could have made this film an above average romcom.
But the film isn't meant to be a comedy, as it quickly delves into a very serious subject - a scam costing hundreds of lives. Noor, of course, is in the thick of this, chasing a story without realising its implications. Her editor, who once forced her to interview Sunny Leone, suddenly becomes the sane male voice that reminds her she's chasing fame; a transition that is laughable.
Sonakshi Sinha's acting is fairly natural as she comfortably slips into the shoes of an average, Nano-driving, sneaker-wearing young journalist. Her monologues, unfortunately barring the one that serves as the film's turning point, are entertaining and endearing.
Her two friends - Kanan Gill as Saad Sehgal and Shibani Dandekar as Zara Patel, exist to solely bring out certain aspects of the lead. Zara's model-like body even makes Noor's constant complaints about her weight sort of believable. Sinha, today, in no way is fat, and the body positivity that the film tries to espouse rings hollow thanks to it.
The actors who essay relatively smaller roles, like Noor's father, her boss, and her household help Malti, do it with aplomb. Too bad they aren't supported by a stronger film.
Where Noor fails
The film sets out to teach us a lesson, a bit like Pink. A lesson in class privilege and our lack of empathy, a lesson in good journalism, and one in ethics.
However, while this film doesn't shout at us through Amitabh Bachchan, its subtle way of handling these important topics is almost callous. In one scene, Malti accuses Noor of considering their class vermin, to trample upon when she wishes to. This conflict is resolved when Noor cries in front of Malti, valuing her very first world problem of not being understood over Malti's real problem of having lost her brother.
The film barely scratches the surface when it comes to the problems it aims to deal with. This, of course, ironically serves to prove the film right, with regard to what sells in the media. Noor panders to the very audience it mocks, which, honestly, makes no sense.
Another major problem with the film is its inability to hold a particular emotion in place. It swings between attempting to be a whole bunch of things, ultimately failing more than succeeding. And the songs in the film really don't help, as they continuously interrupt the story, distracting the viewer and the characters alike.
Should you watch it?
Noor makes for a decent weekend watch. Inoffensive, and fairly comic in parts, it's watchable despite its obvious failings. Also, the acting is pretty on point.
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