Peppered with lots of screeching and hyperness to justify the title, the movie starts off on a funny enough note; a hand-held jerky camera recording dialogue between the two main protagonists, followed by a mock marriage ceremony on the lady’s insistence by lighting a fire in the waste paper bin, drawing on a mangalsutra with marker pen and using chilli ketchup as sindoor…quirky and innovative, ha ha. Therein ends my quota of “ha-ha” too.
So Madhav Kabra urf Maddy (Imran Khan) meets Payal (Kangana Ranaut) whilst she’s tossing out origami airplanes through an open doorway which he just happens to be passing by (why Japanese paper art? Search me. Are they airplanes or lil parakeets? I dunno, mate, not being an expert on it; very pretty at any rate, but relevance-wise, zilch.) Of course it is love at instant sight. Now we go through some meaningless patao-ing scenes with both protagonists equipped with their own sets of friends; it is not clear whether these two are college students or what, although Payal makes a passing reference to it being Ahmedabad and she wants to “check out all the boys.”
Okay, then we are informed by Maddy that he has finished college and, equally suddenly, he is moving to Bombay. Payal decides to follow him and the two are in a live-in relationship for five years, most of which seem to have been spent snarling at each other. What’s marvellous here is that all of Maddy’s college friends also move to Bombay apparently, with his bestie getting a job in the same advertising agency – so neat, na?! This office is some hoot, though. Everybody seems to spend their time being asinine rather than productive, while the manager is a caricature of south Indian meets Bong; this actor has hammed his role to the hilt!
And then, one day – phinish, khallas, break-up! Payal disappears, we have modern true-isms bunged in like blocking from Facebook, changing mobile number, et al. Maddy goes nuts and drives the audience up the wall too. Finally, director Nikhil Advani and a complete stranger (the character Roger) take pity on us by asking the eternal Q – “break-up kyon hua tha?” Maddy, who has been living the movie in flashback mode, flashes to – no prizes for guessing – some more arguments and katti-batti’s.
Surprise, surprise – although the meaning of “katti batti” (yes, the age-old childhood version of make up and break up) is mentioned in the promos and official trailer, this scene has been left out of the movie itself. Instead, the movie is replete with scenes that smack of fantastic imagination at work. Maddy has a mommy who is a cripple in a wheelchair, who dies off rather mysteriously, while daddy wears this long-suffering look of constipation throughout. Pinching a baby to make him cry so Payal’s new number can be swiped off the mommy’s mobile? Screeching at Delhi airport – what happened to the typical Haryanvi security guards here? Pissing in a five-lakh potty IN the potty showroom? A turtle named Milkha (pun intended, I guess) as the symbol of eternal love and commitment between a couple? Do grow up, Nikhil.
Wokay, time for kahani mein twist. The last 30-minutes of the film zip by at breakneck speed. Payal has cancer! This is why she was doing all that faltu katti-batti, so Maddy would start hating her and break up with her. All her friends, including her ex boyfriend as also Maddy’s own domineering, disapproving kid sister, support her in this playacting and pretend that she is actually going to marry her ex but no…true love will prevail. Good ole Maddy never believes a word of all this crap that’s doled out to him, even though he sobs onto Milkha’s shell plenty of times.
Imran Khan is not able to carry an emotional subject on his puny shoulders. He is suited for goofy comedy and that’s about it. Clearly, Kangana Ranaut lost faith in this movie waaay back. This has to be her most lacklustre performance ever; even ‘Revolver Rani’ showed more spunk from her. Apart from that, she looks haggard and drained – time to hit the spas for some TLC (tender, loving care) methinks.
Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur has backed a damp squib with this one. The songs are bunged in without any meaning whatsoever. “Sarfira” has decently peppy music, not so that I’d go sarfira over it though, while “sau aansoo roye do akhiyaan” is pleasing to the ear. Apart from that, nada. Not the lyrics, not the music (Gulraj Singh/ Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy) and not the renditions. Choreography is absolutely below par, with Kangana looking gangly and awkward with the steps she’s been given; I’m not sure if Imran HAD any steps! Cinematography (Tushar Kanti Ray) is not even worth a mention. This is the worst case of editing I have seen in recent times; Maahir Zaveri has ensured the editing is extremely jerky and abrupt. While the storyline (Nikhil Advani/Anshul Singhal) was shaky at best, the splotchy splicing by Zaveri made the last 30 minutes of the film feel as though I was watching a tennis match with the ball being lobbed all over the court. Costumes (Sheetal Sharma) hair, make-up (Shabana Lateef) in one word – terrible. Casting (Mukesh Chhabra) way off; apart from the supporting actors who do no justice to their roles, the lack of chemistry or even, cordiality, between the lead pair, is appalling. As director, Advani shows alarming, almost schizophrenic swings; while we have ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ we also have the nonsensical ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ at the other end of the spectrum.
The film is touted as a “romantic comedy.” If this is Nikhil’s idea of romance – shoot me already!
*This review is written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India.