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In Nitin Kakkar’s “Notebook”, the stunning landscapes of Kashmir prove the perfect backdrop for a less-than-perfect romance story.

Based on the rather quaint idea of two people getting to know each other through an abandoned diary, the film stutters at several points in its more than two-hour runtime, salvaged only by its fresh-faced leads.

Central to the film is a run-down, isolated school located in the middle of a lake in rural Kashmir. The place is beautiful - pristine lakes, sweeping mountain vistas - but lacks the modern comforts we are so used to.

Kabir (Zaheer Iqbal) is miserable as the lone teacher in this school until he chances upon a diary kept by his predecessor Firdaus (Pranutan Bahl). He is inexplicably drawn to this girl who he has never met, and her words and experiences of her time in the school help him overcome the obstacles he faces every day.

The obstacles come in the form of precocious children who don’t want to learn and wild storms that threaten to destroy the rickety school building. Kabir and Firdaus don’t meet until the very end, but Kakkar infuses this love story with humour and some tender moments.

What doesn’t work is the unwieldy script, which has more than a few contrived twists. The upheaval in Firdaus’ personal life is handled very poorly and the related scenes appear awkward at best. Also, Kakkar spends too much time on sub-plots and a last-minute twist that the film could have done without.

But both Bahl and Iqbal, especially the latter, are good fits in their role, bringing the required naiveté that a young romance needs. It is a pity that Kakkar’s heavy-handed approach weighs down what could have been a light, easy watch.

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