The movie with the slick posters featuring an extremely glammed up star cast was pretty tempting. Amit Trivedi's music, Sonam Kapoor's face, high fashion, promises of yet another 'new' urban India film and of course, the casually adorable Abhay Deol. I went and saw. And here are is my unprofessional opinion. Spoilers alert.
The movie begins promisingly with visuals of Sonam Kapoor zipping around Delhi in a sunshine-yellow car to the soundtrack of 'By the Way', a highly girl power song which can be the therapy song du jour. The narrative picks up but relies on the convenience of voice over introductions of everyone. But, never mind, the graphics and the characters are cutesy. We watch on. First sign of trouble: the wastage of hilarious Cyrus Sahukar and his unfunny wedding toast.
The story, or should I say biography begins. Aisha is a 'matchmaker' (the only match to her credit seems to be that of her aunt and a Colonel or Major who happens to be their neighbour also?) with an enviable Chanel, Marc Jacobs lined wardrobe. The song 'Sunoh Aisha' seems to enrapture us with Amit Trivedi's breathy voice extolling the heroine's mystique. Unfortunately, the song is wasted as although Sonam Kapoor's Aisha is beautiful (and breathtakingly so), she comes across annoying, slow-witted, immature and as Abhay Deol's Arjun rightly puts it: shallow. One thing I know about movies is that the lead is supposed to be likable. And nobody in the audience that I shared this movie liked Aisha.
Sure, I appreciate the film for its intents and purposes. Matchmaking transported from Jane Austen's aristocratic England to high society Delhi. India's first completely fashion-forward film. Urban India dialogues and slices of life. However, the screenplay adapts Jane Austen's characters a little too strictly when it comes to caricatures like Shefali and Randhir (but the actors manage to shine through it all), while missing out entirely on the substance in Aisha-Arjun's romance. Some scenes are nicely written, funny too (Shefali and Randhir's walk in oblivion, for example). Some do succeed in being cute: Aisha's father's pep talk, Abhay Deol's balcony climbing confession-but these are probably only because I'm a girl.
And speaking of which! I was dismayed to read Sudhish Kamath's review (that's a first, being dismayed I mean) where he said that the girls' equivalent to 'Dil Chahta Hai' had arrived, ten years late. I am sorry but montages of shopping and comfort food indulgence after heartbreak do not a female coming-of-age story make. Like I said, that's something I still have to write. Chick flick as this film is, it was as much painful for me as it was for the teenage boys I overheard in the popcorn line ("Worst. Movie. Ever"). The only part where my feminity counted for my bias (apart from the scenes mentioned) was in taking serious note of the outfits and delighting to see a different size lead actress for a change. I love Sonam Kapoor anyway, right now. So I forgive her for this movie. While we're speaking of love, let's just say that Abhay Deol brought the perfect man to life, if he isn't that already. :)
The (anti) climax scene of Aisha's confession, albeit an interesting twist, was much much funnier in 'I Hate Luv Storys'. But I don't get these movies where the lead characters hate each other or annoy each other and only later discover that they are meant to be. Does that really happen in real life beyond fifth standard?
Oh and the highlight of the movie was this bunch of Punjabi boys sitting way upfront and tossing popcorn, straws and counter dialogues throughout the movie. In the end when 'Gal teri mithi mithi' began to play, they jumped up and began to dance in the aisles. This is something I have only heard and dreamed of, never seen even in a Tamil movie, leave alone seeing Punjabi men do this in my local theatre in Chennai. They took it to the next level by jumping up on the platform in front of the screen, a row of leg kicking, arm waving silhouettes while the credits rolled. At the end of it all, they bowed to a rousing applause. They made the movie so worthwhile.
The beautiful moment was slightly ruined when the bunch remembered that they had misplaced their bike helmets.