Saturday, January 27, 2007


Nikhil Advani may go blue in the face denying that his film is influenced by Love Actually, but it’s there for all to see. Which is not to say that the actual stories are copied from the Richard Curtis hit, but the idea of portraying different facets of love, definitely is.

Nikhil Advani has attempted a difficult subject and format and a pat on the back for that. But did it have to be so long and ponderous? Did the stories have to be so dull that you would have a hard time figuring out which of the characters in the over-populated film you actually like.

There’re the very much in love Ashutosh (John Abraham) and Tehzeeb (Vidya Balan), who defied the rules to do through an inter-religious marriage. There’s Vinay (Anil Kapoor) in London, who is bored to zombie state with his supposedly happy marriage to gentle Seema (Juhi Chawla—fabulously underplayed) and, like the protagonist of Dance With Me, seeks a fling with dance teacher Anjali (Anjana Sukhani). Raju (Govinda) a Delhi cab driver fantasizes about a white “dreamgirl” and she lands up in the form of scruffy Stephanie (Shannon Esrechowitz) looking for her runaway boyfriend Rohit (Kushal Panjabi), who is bride-hunting in India.

Delhi bachelor Shiven (Akshaye Khanna) is having the pre-marriage jitters, while his bride Gia (Ayesha Takia) keen to get married “to anyone” is willing to switch to Rohit. Item girl Kkamini (Priyanka Chopra) invents a boyfriend as a publicity stunt and Rahul (Salman Khan) latches on to her, and with the media hounds snapping at their heels she has to keep up the pretence. Finally, newly-weds Ramadayal and Phoolwati (Sohail Khan-Isha Koppikar) cause havoc every time they try to make love.

The characters are mostly cardboard, and those that are vaguely real are made to behave like loonies. Surprisingly Govinda with his filmi earthiness connects best, as he tries to help his ‘dreamgirl’, who merrily piles on to him and acts as if she were doing him a favour. Vinay’s boredom, probably mid-life crisis, hit him at just 40, and his behaviour at the disco (when he makes a fool of himself on the floor) is odd, because a man who runs an event management company should surely know what’s in! Odder still, that a character at 40 should be considered old, but not a real-life 40 plus Salman Khan cast as a young man wooing item girl Kkamini.

Worse is the treatment meted out to the women. In 2007, a woman is not allowed to have marriage and a career? Kkamini has to choose between love and ambition. Gia is such a cow, she is willing to marry even the NRI sleazeball whose white girlfriend has just made a scene at her wedding. And what is to made of Miss Stephanie, who chases the man who discarded her and then settles for an illiterate taxi driver? Or Anjali, who clings to an older married man? Sounds more like desperation than love.

Karan Johar is mentioned so often in the film, that you’d think Advani was obsessed with him, but tributes to other directors (Yash Chopra, etc) and films are strewn around – the cabbie called Raju, the lover boy called Rahul, the Muslim girl called Tehzeeb...ring a bell?

Still, Advani is more comfortable with the emotional scenes, the comedy bordering on farce, just falls flat. Would an itty-bitty item girl have the international paparazzi after her? Would an Indian newspaper send reporters after a non-entity to London? How could characters as irritating as Kamini and Rahul even be created? And would Advani do everyone a favour and axe the awful Sohail-Isha track? Anyway the film is so long (3 hours 35 minutes) that if he doesn’t cut it, impatient projectionists will.


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