Yes, that dreadful word.
Fox Star Studios new film set across three global cities is a story of two people who meet at a London airport and spend a day together. Zaffars Nikhil Chopra is an archetypal flirt who harbors dreams to become a filmmaker and live life without fear while Aditis Lalita is an on-your-face feminist who wants to bring a change in the world.
How they fulfill these aspirations is NOT the story, although it is hinted toward the end, quite haphazardly (and superficially), that the two have managed to accomplish their ambitions.
Day 1 progresses with getting soaked in the rain and making out in the church (ok theres just one song, but it reminded me of Saif-Deepikas lovingly filmed kiss in the church in Imtiaz Alis Love Aaj Kal). Both realize that there is something more to the meet and an airport farewell concludes with a promise to meet in New York after some six-odd-months between which they will have no correspondence (No long-distance non-sense, says Lalita) The two meet in Paris and New York after 2 years respectively and how the relationship evolves is the films unstructured storyline.
Yes, this is that kind of film where the hero sprints in the end towards - wherever - as montages of his glorious past feature in-between shots and all subtlety resigns as the score goes into a crescendo, dramatically punctuating the predictable closure.
But the trouble with this globe-trotting film is that even if it has a template script to adhere to, it doesnt approach it with any novelty. There are dialogues that we have heard repeatedly - a major drawback for a film which is quite character-driven than plot-oriented. Theres a serious lack of wit which hampers the proceedings since most of the screen-space is covered with conversations between its two protagonists.
So when the film is moving forward with each passing city, the story doesnt really have any scope to dramatically evolve. Like they kiss in London, have sex in Paris and awkwardly fall in love in New York, but these scenes appear as if they are independent of the film they are in. There is no generic growth with the film appearing to be a highly frivolous costume-and-make-up drama which only tells you that French is spoken with a pout.
Instead of locking the characters in imaginatively thought conflicts, director-screen-writer Anu Menon comes up with an enormously cringe-worthy clich which is employed in Paris instigating the picture to become insufferable.
Is the directors vision of showing a character progress is to have her talk in an alienated accent, have pots of alcohol and fashion her in a weird haircut? While the man gets a moustache and stubble? Lalita is repeatedly promoted as a feminist but what has stemmed the feminism is left unexplained. You can get away with Zaffars Nikhil Chopra as a Bombay-brat running away from his parents, pursuing filmmaking not-so-faithfully, but if you want to add depth to the character, there have to be detailed nuances which reveal so.
These two are city-touring caricatures of the unlikable variety. Their aspirations are superfluous and their arguments, absurd. It makes for a pseudo-commentary on contemporary romance. I repeatedly mention, this is a genre which is best mastered by Imtiaz Ali who knows the art of fleshing out characters and rendering them with the sort of indecisiveness which have you root for them.
Honestly, you dont care if Lalita or Nikhil ever meet. Maybe just a little, when Nikhil goes surprisingly ballistic towards the end.
Barring a couple of songs, the film doesnt flaunt any exceptional cinematography and further suffers due to an erratic editing which makes the picture incoherent and look amateur.
Ali Zaffar says lines as if he is getting a lyrical orgasm whereas Aditi just about passes through the film. Though both actors have a striking screen-presence, there isnt enough on display to sustain the film.
Screen-writing is a rare art. To induce the conversational banter with tension, to make that midnight stroll look ethereally romantic, to film kissing scenes which you would want to watch on youtube later, it requires an exceptional skill and artistic imagination.
London, Paris, New York is not much but a tourist template where the actors had fun shopping
These makers must take some lessons from Woody Allen. He has one classic dedicated to each of the three cities.