This musical romantic comedy set amongst upper middle class families in North India has Imran falling in love with his brother's dulhan to be.

2.5
Kaif shines in uneven rom-com.

Certainly the best thing about this new romantic comedy from director Ali Abbas Zafar has to be his choice of female lead, Katrina Kaif. According to Hindi/Bollywood aficionados, Kaif, already a major figure at home, is set for superstardom. Very funny, and blessed with dazzling good looks, Kaif moves with elegance and grace in the song and dance numbers, has charm, and a sophisticated performance style and the kind of personal energy that makes everything around her shine. Cast here as a 'rock chick’, and daughter of a diplomat, and trapped in a plot so tangled with romantic intrigue you may need a white board and marker to map its contortions, Kaif is always great fun, even if the movie around her flattens out and stalls (as it does).

Kaif’s improbably named heroine is Dimple; she was raised in London, wears short skirts, and as a youth played in a band. She’s rebellious, buoyant and a little on the wacky side. (Though in this movie, 'wackiness’ seems defined by having the long legged, long haired Kaif ride standing up on very small motor scooters.) At one point, she defines herself in terms of how she believes others see her: 'a slut". Not so, says the film’s hero, Kush, played with goofy likability by Imran Khan. He observes that Indian girls are intended to be shy and obedient. The ideal, he muses out loud, seems to be 'London brashness’ combined with the soul of India.

The plot has Kush and Dimple fall in love, which is a serious problem since Kush has been entrusted with finding his brother, ex-pat London-based Luv (Ali Zafar), a bride. With the approval of the families, a marriage is arranged between Luv and Dimple with Kush the master of ceremonies. Meanwhile, Luv is completely oblivious to the fact his bride-to-be is prepared to elope with his brother. The dilemma is worked though in the dialogue: as middle-class Indians, Kush and Dimple cannot run away because it means shame for the respective in-laws and for these two, exile from all family life forever. So, on the eve of the nupitals, Kush and Dimple, with help from a few pals, contrive to set Luv up with his ex-girlfriend Piali Patel (Tara D’Souza).

Not quite understanding the nuances of Indian cultural life, I am not at all certain whether the dialogue and situations here are intended as satirical commentary or over-ripe social observation"¦ On the cache of mainland reviews I’ve browsed for the film the issue on how to read this aspect of movie hardly came up. Perhaps that’s because the movie is really about what lovers are prepared to do in pursuit of happiness. In this case, it’s set up in the best tradition of farce comedy, which means Kush and Dimple find themselves in humiliating situations, dressing in disguises and telling a lot of 'lies’ to bring about a happy resolution for all.

It actually sounds like more fun than it is. Part of the problem is that the comedy, at least in the first half, is blandly low-key and the plot points are worked over so that even the most inattentive viewer can’t miss the significance of each scene. Perhaps a more serious issue is that Abbas Zafar doesn’t engage with the potential for a poignant observation; Luv remains completely 'protected’ from Dimple and Kush’s deceit.

The numbers are big, overblown, well shot and rather humorous, and the second half has some very strong last minute plot moves. Still, it’s a strangely lumbering, awkward affair, a test case for star power charisma at its best.

Details

M
In Cinemas 09 September 2011,

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