When one strives for redemption after destroying a life, how much does forfeiting one's street creds matter? "One-Punch" Nandu Kamtekar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is a young Mumbai street fighter notorious for his one-punch knockouts... while fighting blindfolded. Reluctantly, he also runs shady errands for the local crime boss. When Nandu's moment of carelessness causes a girl to lose her eyesight, a remorseful Nandu befriends her. Except that the girl, Pinky Palkar (Deepika Padukone), a skilled ice skater, had dreamt of winning the talent show, India's Got Talent. That was supposed to be her passport out of the Mumbai slums. So just how far is Nandu willing to go to assuage his guilt? In the tough backstreets of Mumbai, being seen gliding around on skates can ruin a hard man's image.
There is ice skating and there is street fighting, and never the twain shall meet... except in LAFANGEY PARINDEY, of which clashing elements are embodied by a spunky dreamer and a laconic thug. It's partly inspired by ICE CASTLES and there may even be wistful whiffs of Charlie Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS (but that's probably stretching it). Let's not get it twisted. LAFANGEY PARINDEY belongs on a lower tier. It's a sweet but entirely predictable love story, and it comes with a bushel of faults.
I really liked the film's first half, especially those moments in which One-Punch Nandu applies unconventional methods in training Pinky to cope with her handicap (such as dodging a stanky sack of fish by smelling it as it comes swinging at her). I realize it's probably all very "filmy" (as they say in Bollywood) but there's an organic feel in how Nandu and Pinky's friendship evolves. I chalk it up to Deepika Padukone and what she brings to the table.
Even as Aishwarya Rai's star descends, Deepika Padukone shines brighter and brighter in my eyes. Deepika can be counted on to deliver a spirited performance; I think we've seen enough of her work now to acknowledge her range and her acting chops. With Aishwarya, Kajol, Preity Zinta, and Rani Mukerjee getting older, Deepika leads the next generation of top Bollywood actresses. I haven't even mentioned how absolutely gorgeous she is. With her co-star Neil Nitin Mukesh maintaining an earnest but subdued demeanor throughout, it's Deepika's spirited performance that drives the narrative. Her elegant looks undermine her role of a ghetto native, and yet there's a naturalness about her, a feistiness to her. If not for her taking matters into her own hands, One-Punch Nandu would still be this lump of silent pining.
The quibbles now. It's odd that even though Nandu persistently gets bloodied in his fights, his face barely registers a mark. It's disappointing that the fights themselves are so weakly staged. It pushes credibility that Pinky and Nandu could draw such stunned reactions from the television judges with the tepid skating routines they unveil onstage. The ending feels rushed, with everything falling too conveniently into place. Deepika's vibrant personality threatens to drown out Neil Nitin Mukesh's low-keyed efforts. I wish Farhan Akhtar had played the One-Punch Nandu part. He's got the right sort of edginess to him. I do recommend this movie for those who worship at Deepika Padukone's feet and providing that you lower your expectations a smidge. If you'd rather watch a film that matches Deepika's fight, then go dig up LOVE AAJ KAAL or OM SHANTI OM.
3.5 out of 5 stars for LAFANGEY PARINDEY. I was tempted to rate it 2.5 stars but Deepika's performance elevates the film. The DVD provides an option for English sub-titles, as well as the option to go straight to the musical numbers. These songs are generally likable, but my two favorites are the soulful and melodic "Mann Lafanga" and the bittersweet "Nain Parindey." There is also a Making of the Film featurette that runs 00:22:48 minutes (some of which is in English).