There’s a window of freedom that comes with making an urban, slice-of-life film. A filmmaker can do away with the pressure of playing by the formula rule book and keep the stories and characters simple and relatable. Debut director Pavan Sadineni tells us three stories of love. Far from candyfloss romances, these are chapters from the lives of young urban men and women who aren’t blinded by the thought of idealistic love. ‘Love is a necessity’ is a thought that runs through the film, as it pops up flawed and often confused characters.

Randhir or Randy (Harshvardhan Rane) is a musician who runs a coffee shop. His music is not for commerce, he declares, and wears a scowl for most part of the film. A college student, Sarayu (Vithika Sheru), persists until he relents to perform in her campus. Love blossoms, Sarayu encourages him to do more live concerts and cut an album, but is unable to accept that he will not have enough time for her.

A smooth-talking radio jockey Arjun (Harish) chases skirts when he is not on air, meets a software engineer Shanti (Srimukhi), the only woman who drives him up the wall. He dances to her tunes waiting to reveal his true colours, but she turns out to be a bag of surprise.

Then there’s Royal Raju (Vishnuvardhan) who arrives in Hyderabad and hopes to fall in love with a pretty city-bred woman. He joins a film unit as an assistant director, befriends the costume designer Sameera (Ritu Varma) and hopes to bridge the cultural gap and win her over.

All these love stories cross paths at Randy’s coffee shop. Poster designer Bhanu has an extended cameo as a director trying to making a film for the niche audience but having to put up with a self-obsessed star called Mahanama (Satyam Rajesh).

With characters drawn from different strata of society, the film could have been a smart take on urban life, love and infidelity. There is an attempt to show young men and women as they are, with their conflicting thoughts on love and career, their perception of right and wrong and their quest for identities in a maze.

Yet, Prema Ishq Kadhal fumbles. The screenplay is incoherent and the acting, inconsistent. A few scenes, especially those between the director and the star, make for an enjoyable spoof on the film industry. The love stories, though, don’t really draw you in and make you connect with the characters. The conclusions of the three stories seem rather forced.

Apart from better writing and execution, a better set of actors could have done the trick. Given his experience, Harshvardhan Rane is the best among the lot. Harish and Vishnuvardhan shine in a few scenes.

Shravan’s music lifts the film by a few notches with good songs and background score. But is that enough to overlook the amateurishness with which the film has been handled?

Anurag Basu’s Life in a Metro is an example of a well narrated multi-genre film, helped by a commendable set of actors. Perhaps we’ll have to wait longer to see something that smart in Telugu.