Cultural differences between the families often play spoilsport in Bollywood love stories. We have come a long way from the dramatic spell and tragic swell of Ek Duje Ke Liye; with young graduates travelling to different parts of the country to study and work, our novels and films have begun to find possible love stories in this aspirational shift. Here the makers are trying to suggest that the urbane young guns have become inclusive but their parents are still stuck to the roots. Earlier this year we saw a similar, if smaller, conflict in another Dharma production Gori Tere Pyaar Mein . Gori remains the operative word here as well. The casting has been done accordingly. Alia Bhatt plays a Tamilian Brahmin without any effort to sound like one but Revathy is cast as her mother to make the mood palatable.
The girl from the conservative background can eat chicken and wear shorts and the Punjabi boy tries hard to rein in his hormones but their parents are not ready to rise above the regional barriers. No, they don’t employ musclemen, nor do they bring in emotional blackmail into play. They just keep waiting for the director to iron out the stereotypes he has in mind about them.
Based on Chetan Bhagat’s semi-autobiographical novel, director Abhishek Varman has managed to retain the Bhagat flavour. It is light, frothy but constantly trying to be profound. When it starts with the protagonist telling his history to a psychiatrist, you can sense the halo!
Unlike the novel, the film glosses over the romance and settles for a long game of demolishing the brackets in a mechanical fashion. It is a kind of film that never comes to the boiling point. It keeps rumbling and rambling without adding much to the dialogue apart from a couple of interesting observations.
Ananya, the girl from Mylapore and Krish, the Malhotra boy from Delhi meet at IIM campus. Varman seems to have assumed that his audience will come after reading the book. Without spending much time on establishing the atmospherics of romance and academics he comes to the point. The boy goes to Chennai to win over the girl’s Tamilian parents and in return the girl tries to woo the Punjabi mother of Kris.
Varman’s belief that his audience still believe in the novelty of the theme becomes irksome. He keeps recycling the community-centric jokes. Some make you chuckle but many make you cringe. He fails to recognise the fact that Chetan’s duo went to IIM in 1995. It has been two decades since then and in the meanwhile the demographic profile of the country has changed considerably. The remarks on skin colour and dowry seem rather flimsy particularly when he has the likes of Revathy and Shiv Subramanium playing the parents in a credible setting.
The film gathers its emotional heft in the second half when the relationship between Kris and his damaged father (Ronit Roy) unravels. Amrita Singh plays a vital cog in the wheel as the suffering wife and the overprotective mother. It is an interesting patch where the son starts filling in the vacuum created by the father and in the process suffers. Alia and Arjun make an interesting pair on screen. For a change we have a couple which doesn’t start looking like brother and sister after a few reels. Arjun finally gets a role where he has to explore the vulnerability of the character without any props and he doesn’t disappoint. It is their natural charm, particularly Alia’s effortless approach that makes you invest in their relationship despite the fact that the narrative unfolds in a soap operatic tone.
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amrita Singh, Ronit Roy, Revathy, Shiv Subramanium
Plot: A Tamil girl falls in love with a Punjabi boy but they decide to marry only when their parents will bless them.
Bottomline: Try it if you have the patience!