Sriram Venkat (Imran Khan), an urbane, carefree young man from Bangalore falls for Dia Sharma (Kareena Kapoor), a girl who leaves the luxuries of her Delhi lifestyle to stay in a village and follow her heart.
Despite a barrage of colour and noise, Punit Malholtra’s paper-thin romantic comedy Gori Tere Pyaar Mein is little more than a lazy star vehicle for two of Bollywood’s big names, neither of whom seem particularly keen to be involved.
The usually reliable Imran Khan (reteaming with the director after 2010’s I Hate Luv Storys) plays Siriam Venkat, a role that the auteur claims to have moulded on his good self (which seems unlikely, given what a creep the character is, but is a marketable selling point). Khan employs all his boyish charm to breath life into his obnoxious character, but is clearly too old to portray a nightclubbing player (the kind who still pushes up the sleeves of their sportsjacket to impress girls).
Venkat is not immune to true love, it is revealed. He can’t let go of the passion he once felt for Dia Sharma (Kareena Kapoor Khan), a conscience-driven server of a lower social peg who once believed the brattish Venkat could get over his egotistical ways and help make small villages such as her current home, Jumli, more civilised places to live. Kapoor Khan is at her most insufferably perky in a part that, admittedly, asks for little more of her meagre talents. Malholtra has clearly left his actors to their own devices and his leading lady offers up enough hair tosses, lippy pouts and come hither glances for a dozen films.
So a familiar romantic to-and-fro is established, resulting in Venkat chasing after Dia and committing his skill (as an architect, it is conveniently revealed, allowing him to design a much-needed bridge) and personality (he effortlessly outwits the shady village profiteer, a scenery-chewing Anupam Kher) to her cause. The production overstates the protagonist’s cultural heritage (he is a Tamil; she, a Punjabi) but entirely abandons any serious social satire angle (Tamil wedding guests are once again portrayed as shrill, shrieking cartoons, a further insensitive component of a crass and shallow work).
Frankly, the narrative is a hindrance to the overall intent of Gori Tere Pyaar Mein. The whole enterprise exists to allow mainstream audiences some drool time over photogenic stars in between tabloid covers; Khan’s incessant straight-to-camera grins and cocked eyebrows become unintentionally hilarious. The chemistry between the miscast leads is non-existent; it is inconceivable that Venkat would betray his fiancée (played with luminosity by Shraddha Kapoor, whose absence is sorely missed as the film unfolds) for the insufferable do-gooder Dia.
To the blandly commercial pop stylings of Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, dance sequences are afforded the most perfunctory, overly familiar staging. Malholtra’s modus operandi seems to be to swirl his camera around endlessly and hand the footage over to his editor, Akiv Ali, who is charged with the unenviable task of making it all cinematically paletable. To his credit, Ali almost makes it work.