“Aamras” is a coming-of-age comedy about four 18-going-on-adulthood girls. Pari (Natasha) is the upper class snob who often funds the fun ideas of her middle class best-friend Jiya (Vega). Their equation seems a very distant descendent of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna in “Namak Haraam”.
Add to the twosome’s on-and-off bonding a couple of more inseparable friends like Rakhi (Maanvi) and Sanya (Annchal) and you have a bubbly brew of backslapping and bonhomie during times of picnics, parties, growing up and realising that life is not just a fun zone.
“Aamras” is high on content. Debutant director Rupali Guha, who is veteran filmmaker Basu Chatterjee’s daughter, pays winking homages to her dad and his colleague Hrishikesh Mukherjee. At the girls’ picnic the man-in-charge is named Parimal Tripathi (Ashish Roy), a la Dharmendra in “Chupke Chupke”.
Guha gives a sweet and sometimes slyly amusing spin to the high-school hijinks of a foursome that just wants to have fun, but soon gets to know that life has other plans. However, the director fails to carry off the emotional high-points like the rich Pari’s anger and jealousy when Jiya gets a boyfriend, or the death of Jiya’s mother.
Guha has happily cast a quartet of newcomers in the lead who make the energised trivia of teen life seem believable and warm. The film has that quaint cosy feeling that the director’s father specialised in. The script moves forward at a measured pace, even when it’s let down by uneven technical details.
Of late there have been some frank and forthright exposes on school-going mores and values. Director Robby Grewal’s “Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar” and Satish Kaushik’s recent “Teree Sang” showed the compulsive fixation on dating and match-making among post-adolescent teenagers.
In “Aamras”, the foursome’s friendship is done with sincerity. However, the cosy intimacy wears thin when the principal characters begin to behave like one-dimensional stereotypes rather than the real people you tend to believe them to be initially.
The script crams too much into the narrative’s fragile frame. Loud, malfunctional families, the laughable arrogance of the rich, friendship and jealousy over parties, stealthily-shot kisses on the phone, a beloved mother-figure stabbed and a painting competition where the middle class girl sacrifices her chance to go to Paris for the rich friend — all this is like placing heavy baggage on a tender shoulder.
Finally the film’s narrative seems to have bitten off more than it can chew. You like the film for its sweet and honest intentions rather than the execution. The performances by the four girls range from the warmly credible to the passable. The girls make a convincing quartet. The supporting cast of veterans is surprisingly lacklustre.
Why does Reema Lagoo assume a hideous hammy avatar to play the flirty teacher? Basu-da would cringe at that one.