Parineeta: Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Novel


This was the official website for the 2005 film, Parineeta, based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name.
Content is from the site's archived pages as well as from other outside sources.


Parineeta | Trailer
Parineeta marks Vinod Chopra's first adaptation of an existing work of literature. It also marks the debut of acclaimed actress Vidya Balan. Set entirely in the Calcutta of the 1960's, Parineeta garnered critical acclaim for the authenticity of its music and production design. The film went on to give it's director his first National Award and was received wide-spread acclaim across Film Festivals in India and internationally.



RELEASE DATE:June 10, 2005
In Theaters:    Jun 10, 2005 Wide
On DVD:    Sep 13, 2005
STUDIO:UTV Communications
DIRECTOR:Pradeep Sarkar
SCREENWRITERS:Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Pradeep Sarkar
STARRING:Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Raima Sen, Diya Mirza, Vidya Balan




Reviewed by: Alok Kumar  - Rating: 9.0 / 10  |

Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, Kareeb, Mission Kashmir, Munnabhai MBBS.

Each of these above-mentioned films are from producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Not all are box-office winners, but each bears a stamp of quality, class, and refinement. Parineeta is Chopra´s latest release and is no exception. The film offers beautiful performances, a moving love story, an aesthetic presentation, and excellent music. The film triumphs on almost every level and emerges not only as one of the best films of 2005, but also as Chopra´s finest production to date. Chopra also offers us a woman who I feel may be the most promising upcoming actors of her generation, Vidya Balan, who stuns with a pitch-perfect, sensitive, and subtly nuanced performance. Her performance is not that of a debutante, but rather of a powerful actor.

The film itself has a simple story to tell. Lolita (Vidya Balan) is the orphaned lower-middle class neighbor of wealthy Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) in 1960s Calcutta. Lolita and Shekhar are childhood friends and lovers attempting to overcome an all-too-obvious class chasm. She lives with her uncle, who owes an exorbitant amount of debt to Shekhar´s father. Shekhar´s father is a cold and calculating businessman who has plans to seize Lolita´s family´s haveli due to this outstanding debt and turn it into a five-star hotel. Shekhar himself loathes his father's profession and is oblivious to his father's scheme. He prefers to spend his time composing music and courting Lolita. When Lolita comes to learn of Shekhar´s father's nefarious scheme, she urges her uncle to seek help from a wealthy benefactor Girish (Sanjay Dutt). Girish secretly loves Lolita, and his entry into the lives of these neighbors causes an enormous misunderstanding between Lolita and Shekhar, who jealously accuses his childhood sweetheart of whoring herself out for Girish´s charity. Thus, the lovers are separated and Shekhar eventually follows in the footsteps of his father, becoming the same cold and calculating businessman he once professed to hate and accepting the marriage proposal of Gayatri (Diya Mirza), a beautiful yet ultimately vapid and superficial woman from a wealthy family.

The performances in the film are all consistently excellent. Vidya Balan´s portrayal of Lolita is of such a high standard that she puts the industry's current favorites like Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee (Yes, even Rani´s overdone performance in Black), and Priety Zinta to shame. Though not strikingly beautiful, she is unconventionally pretty and her sweet simplicity reminds of Ashwini Bhave in Parampara and Yugpurush. At times she also reminded me of Manisha Koirala in 1942: A Love Story. I'm predicting that Balan will eventually shoot to the top of the A-List and will go on to become not just a film star, but an actress of the caliber of Meena Kumari, Nargis, etc. There´s no flaw in her performance, really nothing to improve upon -- be it diction, emotiveness, body language, and screen presence. Her performance is perfect.

Saif Ali Khan further consolidates his position as an actor of substance and delivers a solid performance, balancing intense love for this woman with intense jealousy of Girish. Khan straddles the line between proud anger and self-loathing with enormous skill. A lesser actor would have played the character of Shekhar as either an over-possessive neurotic or an immature and arrogant child. Shahrukh Khan, for example, in Devdas overplayed his character's self-righteousness and pride and delivered an overdone, one-note performance. Saif handles the character with sensitivity and, as a result, helps the viewer understand Shekhar´s motives in some parts and dislike him in others. When Gayatri compliments Shekhar on his business acumen, applauding a musician for having such a practical skill, Shekhar replies, "No, I´m not a musician, just a businessman," Saif delivers the line in a way which demonstrates both Shekhar´s understanding of who he has become and his utter hatred of himself for transforming into such a cold and bitter person.

Finally, Sanjay Dutt plays Lolita´s benefactor Girish with warmth and compassion. Dutt plays Girish as a simple man with straightforward thoughts and emotions, a character who we instantly fall in love with. He supports Balan and Khan wonderfully and is a scene stealer, especially in his introductory scene when he first meets Lolita. This year Sanjay Dutt has demonstrated his versatility as an actor, first with his masterful performance in Leena Bajaj´s underrated Shabd and now with his excellent turn in Parineeta. All three lead performances are award-worthy.

Diya Mirza has a small yet impressive supporting role in the film as Gayatri, Shekhar´s fiancé. She looks stunningly beautiful in her period gowns and dresses and radiates charm in her scenes with Saif, especially her introductory scene at Gayatri´s birthday party.Rekha surprises in her cameo as a lounge singer with her fun cabaret number "Kaisi Paheli Zindagani," looking young in a form-fitting maroon sari and dancing with grace.

Shantanu Moitra´s music fits the film very well, adding to the rich ambiance and setting of the story. The songs are aesthetically picturized, especially "Piyu Bole", "Soona Man Ka Aangan", and Rekha´s above-mentioned song. Technically, the film is beautifully shot. Everything looks sumptuous - the elegant mansions, the beautiful clothes, the hills of Darjeeling and Kolkata´s busy streets. The Bengali culture adds a classy sheen to the movie and debutante director Pradeep Sarkar shows immense promise by understating his film´s beautiful love story with soft lighting, rich color arrangements, and well-framed scenes. The montage involving Shekhar´s jealous visions of Girish and Lolita making love on their wedding night and his frenzied piano playing is just one example of the artistic depth and poignance of Sarkar´s direction.

The only flaw in the film is that the post-interval proceedings film seem extremely rushed. The characters and events unfold slowly and with such precision in the first half that the post-interval and climax make the movie seem rushed and uneven. Had Sarkar taken his time in the latter portions of the story, the film would have had even more of an impact. As it is, Parineeta rises above this flaw and emerges a film that resonates with maturity and emotional poignance. A must-see.




Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s poetic prose comes to life in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's cinematic adaptation of "Parineeta" - The Married Woman. The city of Calcutta – 1962. A city so vibrant, so alive, so stylish, it was referred to as 'The Paris of the East.' This exotic backdrop serves as the perfect locale for the tender, immortal love story about to unfold. A young girl: Lolita, orphaned at an early age, is sent to live with her uncle's family, where destiny introduces her to... A young boy: Shekhar, a budding musician, the son of an affluent businessman. Together, through childhood and adolescence, Shekhar and Lolita share joys and sorrows, fond memories and bittersweet experiences... and unknown to them, a relationship of deep friendship and trust takes place. It is an unspoken right they hold over each other that metamorphoses into a love so intense, they do not even see it coming. It takes the arrival of an outsider, Girish, for them to discover their true feelings for each other. The chemistry between Lolita and Shekhar sizzles and sparkles, till it explodes. But fate has something else in store for them. Greed, deception and malicious intent are waiting to plague Lolita and Shekhar's innocent love. Events twist and turn beyond their control, spin around them in a maze of suspicion, misunderstandings and high tempers... till even their love cannot stop them from being torn apart. Can true love conquer these insurmountable obstacles, or will it succumb to them? Will Lolita and Shekhar be forever swept apart by these tumultuous events or can they fulfill their destiny and come back together?



Derek Elley
Variety February 7, 2006
A character-driven mellermeller that's a treat for the eyes, with performances to match. Parineeta is high-end Bollywood near its best.





Raam Tarat |  | Rating: 4.5/5
Wonderful, Fantastic, Delicious – This is the ultimate Bollywood movie of the year [so far] and one that can only be written about in superlatives. If you’re looking for a classic Indian musical at your local multiplex in the near future, this is your ticket.

Parineeta is based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel meaning ‘Married Woman’ and is a love tryst between suave musician Shekhar [Khan], wanton yet demure and unfortunately named – Lolita [Balan] and well-heeled entrepreneur Girish [Dutt].

Shekhar and Lolita have literally grown up together as friends and neighbours. Whilst Shekhar is from a well to do aristocratic family, Lolita is staying with relatives after the untimely demise of her parents. When London-returned steel tycoon Girish enters the fray and warms to Lolita, the real nature of all these relationships are questioned, tested and ultimately realised…

This was originally set at the turn of the century, but for reasons best known to Sarkar the setting has been shifted forward to the 1960’s. Probably to accomodate Khan’s Elvis impersonations, and attempt at the in-jokes referring to his real life Shakespearean great-grandfather Rabindranath Tagore. This is on many accounts similar to Devdas, one of the most prominent Indian films in recent times. The similarities are there for all to see: period movie detail, essence of authentic Calcutta, a cocky arrogant heir apparent (in Khan), Hitler-like father figure, the love story between neighbours, and women with large red bindi’s… Oh, and let’s not forget the most significant link: Chattopadhyay, who wrote both of the novels.

This is at its heart a beautiful story, stunningly lit with breath-taking frames, and sumptuous performances. The leads are excellent as a once breezy, at times broody Shekhar, a playful yet sensitive Lolita and a steely and compassionate Girish. As the lives of our protagonists cross paths time and again… we come to care for and empathize with them, especially Shekhar whom through circumstance of fate, and misunderstanding loses the two loves of his life – music and his beloved Lolita.

The strength here lies in a beautifully crafted script skilfully adapted from a literary classic, and pleasantly engaging. A story about classic love, friendship, old world charm and old world values. In which friendship and trust take on a new meaning and realisation with the advent of a third wheel. What strikes you most about the film is its sheer naturalism. Unlike most Bollywood films it’s understated, under-played and unpretentious, which works beautifully in its favour.

Each of the characters seems to have been overtly understood by the performers and played accordingly, and there seems to be a collective understanding of the story; the era; the essence of the plot, with all faculties working in unison to achieve this. Chopra and Sarkar seem to have gone to great lengths in researching, detailing and recreating 1960’s Calcutta, and have treated the subject with the sensitivity, restraint and respect it deserves.

The climax is a bit of a copout – a tad gaudy and predictable, and it seems the understatement aspect kind of takes a nap in the last reel; the metaphor is truly hammered home. Performance-wise Balan is phenomenal in her screen debut. Khan and Dutt are excellent at underplaying their characters; the former astute and sensitive, and the latter somewhat endearing. Ultimately a wonderfully told story with bucket-loads of integrity.

This would be a good starting point for a beginner to Bollywood, though it couldn’t be classed typical Bolly fare [as it’s a period movie; literary adaptation] but could be seen as one of the more seasoned outputs this year!! A gargantuan leap from Devdas, and highly recommended.


Rotten Tomatoes AUDIENCE 85%

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhye's beloved novel is brought to the screen in this lavish adaptation, which moves the story to the heady days of 1962 in Calcutta. Lolita (Vidya Balan) is a beautiful young woman who is taken in by her uncle after the tragic death of her parents. She grows up in a household of love and support despite her unfortunate circumstances, and as a child she makes friends with Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan), a boy from the neighborhood. Shekhar wants to be a musician and has plenty of talent, but he lacks the courage to go against the wishes of his father, who wants Shekhar to go into business. Lolita and Shekhar remain close friends and confidantes over the years, but it isn't until Girish (Sanjay Dutt), a wealthy and charismatic man, comes into Lolita's life that Shekhar comes to realize that he's deeply in love with his childhood pal, and wants to have her as his own.



***** mikki - September 23, 2007
i loved this film! the acting was brill but i have to admit it was a it too predictable and the bit with the wall at the end was a bit naff. although i have to say saif Ali Kahn is rather buff!


***Afzal S September 21, 2007
An Engaging Film, If a Little Fey

Parineeta is an enjoyable, almost Chekovian tale about the age-old tensions between individuality and family. The plot of the film, set in the early 1960's, is based on the fateful consequences of a misunderstanding that spirals out of control between a young man, Saif Ali Khan's spoilt but earnest Shekhar, and a girl, Vidya Balan's spirited orphan Lolita, who live next to each other in Havelis(large Indian houses) which belong to connected Calcutta families.

The script is well written, with lively dialogue, three-dimensional characters and an intriguing plot. The splendour and beauty of the sets cannot be questioned, and Pradeep Sarkar's direction is assured. As a viewer should come to expect from Indian cinema, the music and songs are melodious and memorable, and half-justified in Parineeta as Shekhar is something of a songsmith.

The acting of the leads is very good. Saif Ali Khan gives a studied, understated performance, showing well the fraught circumstances his character feels himself in, and Vidya Balan brings out a good sense of pathos to her role while managing to show strength and avoid sentiment. The surrounding cast lends good support, especially Sanjay Dutt's wonderfully contained comic performance as a businessman returning from England.

The only problem with Parineeta is its smallness in scope. The story the film is based on has been updated to Calcutta in the 1960's, and not up to the present day, presumably to avoid it seem antediluvian. This is telling and, despite attempts to have the characters spend some time away from the narrow range of their lives in the Havelis, Calcutta, which at the beginning of the film is described as a vibrant, multitudinous city in foment, seems virtually absent. This makes Parineeta, an otherwise engaging film, seem a little fey.



***** Mohit R September 17, 2007
Wonderful direction, superb acting, and an amazing recreation of early modern India. The songs are absolutely beautiful and finally for once depicted honestly and with great integrity in the movie. I have to say this is a jewel of indian cinema.



****½ Dinithi G July 8, 2007
Loved this flick! one of Saifs best movies! unique story!! *sigh*



** Connie V July 7, 2007
Oof, so everyone loves this movie. And...ho hum. I guess part of the problem was I was expecting something different. I guess I was expecting hard core know, complete with singing, dancing, and complete and utter overacting. I should have paid more attention to the reviewers. I think I would have liked it much better if I had known what to expect-but I had just gotten off of a long and hot day at work, and was looking for something much more frivolous than this movie-which was really well done-but it was much more serious than your, bollywood. There wasn't any singing and dancing :( just lots of songs where the main characters sat around moping. However, that being said, I did really like the whole "messing with time" ie, show a scene from the end of the movie at the beginning, to make you curious as to how it happened. However, even accepting the fact that Parineeta was serious-I still felt like something was missing. I just, don't quite know what that something was. I also felt that this movie is one that you'd need to see at least twice to appreciate-but the only problem is I don't know if I want to watch it Oh and PS I do like Saif Ali Khan. He's cool.



***** Haniya T June 27, 2007
one of my cuzins n my favorite movie!! its a ritual to watch it on every sleepover we have!!



**** Rishi B June 27, 2007
This movie is awesome. Saif Ali Khan's best movie in my opinion. The main song is stupendous and it keeps you hooked the whole way through. I'm gonna be singing that piya bhole song all day today



**** Elaine Z June 26, 2007
Beautifully done film.



***** Raniya A June 24, 2007
My all time favorite movie. People don't see how life and relationship can change in just few seconds.



***½ Mahmood H  October 31, 2006
Saif was pretty damn good in this film.



***** Astrid M September 6, 2006
real sweet but sad love story



***** rINkesH p August 30, 2006
watch it... a film par perfection... n' a classic story set back in 1960's/ kolkata...



***** Yaya T August 30, 2006