H ollywood has squeezed almost every penny out of romantic comedy. Now it's our turn to exploit the genre. It relies on the timeless theme — good-looking opposites attract in beautiful surroundings. And when you have Karan Johar as the producer, you easily get the matching right. Debutant Punit Malhotra has found a new logic in this designer formula. The two need not attract each other at the same time. It could be one at a time. We have Jay (Imran Khan), a debonair assistant director, who hates whatever producer Karan Johar's cinema stands for. He comes across Simran (Sonam Kapoor), a set designer, who not only creates but also lives in the frothy world of celluloid romance. Simran is engaged to Raj (Sammir Dattani in a cardboard character) who in this case is methodical, almost regimented in life and romance. Jay and Simran spar on the sets, but soon are drawn towards each other. Punit's screenplay is largely stereotyped with moments of youthful candour. Punjabi father holding a glass, Gujarati mother churning out dhoklas, a boring investment banker, boy hates love stories because his parents got separated…the characterisation is straight from the Bollywood book of clichés. The therapy for breaking free is having shots of vodka on weekdays! A girl who swears by Karan Johar's cinema doesn't need a lesson in it. Punit's treatment of clever remarks to make fun of himself and his mentor is laudable and provides the film the bubble it requires to float but, like his mentor, Punit believes in too much of a good thing. Be it references to Yash Raj and Karan Johar's hits or the use of signs to define the mood of a scene, Punit's screenplay gets boringly repetitive. Thankfully, he has got lead actors who believe in the script and have a crackling chemistry going from the first scene. With Vishal Shekhar providing some hummable numbers, Imran and Sonam in Manish Malhotra's outfits manage to rise above the script even as Punit blatantly copies situations and characters from some cult films. Raj is very much like the boy who gave Sonali Kulkarni a balloon every day in Dil Chahta Hai. Sonali was quick to dump the jerk in a couple of scenes, but almost a decade later Simran takes a whole film to realise that Mr. Matching Matching (every day Raj turns up in a shirt that matches the colour of Simran's outfit) is not the right man for her. She doesn't need an eye-opener. She simply needs common sense which is in short supply here. As somebody, who constructs and deconstructs celluloid dreamland every day, it is hard to believe that Simran could be so far from reality.
Similarly, Jay hates love stories but for the sake of resume assists a filmmaker, who is a cross between Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Karan Johar (Sameer Soni plays this over-the-top character with little conviction). Hard to believe! There are plenty of filmmakers in Bollywood today, who don't believe in candyfloss. Even if you ignore it, Jay is a Casanova who doesn't believe in love and the trappings that come with it. For him, life is about one-night stands, but when he meets Simran his lustful side never shows up. Are there fluid-tight demarcations between love and lust? Isn't it something youngsters are grappling with these days? But Punit doesn't talk about it. Shockingly, it is never an issue between Raj and Simran, who know each other from childhood. After trying to be versatile, Imran has returned to familiar romantic terrain. His Jay is only a couple of streets away from the Jai he played in Jaane Tu…Jaane Na. He has mastered four-five expressions which establish his uber-cool credentials quite well. His infectious comic flavour is on display in scenes where Jay and his friend try out some staple Bollywood recipes but where things get slightly complex, he still has to learn a few tricks. Sonam's face lights up the proceedings every time the mind says, “Enough!” If there is something called intelligent innocence, she has it, but it is waiting to be explored.
I Hate Luv Storys Genre: Romantic Comedy Director: Punit Malhotra Cast: Imran Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Sammir Dattani Storyline: The girl is a romantic at heart and thinks she is engaged to the right man. Along comes a boy who's cynical about love. As usual, opposites attract. Bottomline: The lead players rise above the script and make the film work