So you’ve just settled into your favourite chair with a Terry Pratchett novel — one that you’ve read five times already but just can’t help revisiting every so often. Just as you’re building into your first chuckle of the evening, the doorbell rings. It’s your neighbour. The guy’s just moved in, but is the I-wanna-make-friends-with-everyone type. There’s one in every apartment block, I’m sure.
He makes some small talk (idhar udhar ki baatein, vagaira vagaira…), then launches into this spiel about how he’s been furniture shopping all weekend. Talks about how he loves classic designs, whatever that might be. Then he asks you to come over to his place and take a look at the stuff he’s just bought. Not exactly how you envisioned spending the evening, but he’s got this puppy-dog earnestness that makes it difficult to say no. So you put the Pratchett down and head over to his place to see…
Furniture parts. In the master bedroom, for instance, there’s a bunch of planks, parts that presumably comprise a frame and a plastic bag with nuts and bolts, all neatly arrayed in one corner. You move from room to room, seeing variations on the same theme, sneaking peeks at your neighbour’s face to see if there’s a punch line coming. Nope, the guy’s earnest as they come. When you’re done with the furniture show, such as it is, he looks at you with this expectant smile, as if to ask: “Well, what do you think?”
So you stand there and weigh your options:
1. You could bash the guy’s skull in with one of the planks in the bedroom.
2. You could say nothing, shake your head slowly and go back to Sam Vimes and Captain Carrot.
3. You could say to yourself, well, two can play this game. And tell him what you think about each plank and nut (including him) in the house.
Me, I’m going with Option 3. Read on…
Plot: Boy-who-doesn’t-believe-in-love meets Girl-who-does against the backdrop of a romantic film-within-a-film that references every Yash-Raj-Dharma romantic movie in recent times. If you can’t fill in the rest, you haven’t watched enough rom-coms, and this one gives no reason to add to your meagre count.
Hero: Imran Khan does well when he needs to raise an eyebrow or clown around. But when he gets serious, he contributes heavily to the com portion of the rom-com without meaning to.
Heroine: Sonam has the sort of sunny screen presence that is perfect for this sort of material. She has very little to do, and does it winsomely enough.
Loser(s): These stories typically give both leads significant others who get dumped before the end. Sameer Dattani plays an “Investment banker. London se“. Personally, I have friends who fit that description, but anyone who actually introduces himself like that deserves to get dumped. Preferably in a vat of toxic debt. Bruna Abdullah seems to be auditioning for a Foley artist gig — the next time you want someone to provide the sound effect for nails scraping on blackboard, you know whom to ask.
Sidekick: Usually, the hero and/or the heroine have sidekicks who are always on hand to provide useless advice. This time, it’s just the hero, and the sidekick in question is the pudgy guy from the Sprite ads. He has a few shining moments, notably one where he displays a graph that looks something as follows:
Anything that expects people to remember their co-ordinate geometry in order to get the joke is a plus. I’m still waiting for the day when they start putting stochastic differential equations about love on screen. After all, with investment bankers (from London) on the scene, can Black-Scholes formulae for pricing the option of falling in love with one guy while being engaged to another be far behind? Then again, we might end up with consultants (from New York) and end up with 2×2 grids.
Rom: Much has been made of the chemistry between the leads. Frankly, I didn’t see much. They looked good together, and had a few scenes that worked, but nothing earth-shattering.
Com: There’s a running gag about the people in the hero’s life calling him a girl. His mom included. Instead of the customary gay-related digs alone, this one has lines targeted at the entire LGBT spectrum. Not sure if this counts as progress, but given how the rest of the movie is, I’ll take what I get.
Director (of film-within-film): Samir Soni has among the best roles in the film. His lunacy has such a perfect pitch that a full-out spoof centered on him would not be entirely unwelcome. Preferably one written by someone who knows what he is doing.
Director (of this film): Nut.