Love insane, stereotypical luv storys? Go for ‘I Hate….'

IT's OLD WINE: Punit Malhotra's “I hate Luv Storys” relies on the timeless theme – good-looking opposites attract in good-looking surroundings. Director David Mackenzie's “Spread” (right) brings us a gorgeous shallow character and expects us to identify with it.  


(Delite and other theatres in Delhi and elsewhere)

Romantic comedy is a much abused term these days. Hollywood has drawn almost every penny out of it. Now it's our turn to squeeze the genre. It relies on the timeless theme – good-looking opposites attract in good-looking 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 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. If she is Simran, she has to be throated to Raj (Sameer Dattani in a cardboard character) who in this case is methodical, almost regimented in life and romance. Jay and Simran spar on the sets before realising one by one that both are living in extremes and that the reality lies somewhere in between. Simply put, they get hooked easily but take time in getting cooked and booked.

Punit has dished out a screenplay which largely plays by stereotypes interspersed with some genuine 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 demands to float but like his mentor Punit believes in too much of good things.

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 used to give 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 the 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 to uncork common sense which is in short supply here.

Jay hates love stories but 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 the 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.

She, together with Imran, could still make it work for people who are in the insanity of puberty, and mind you such people exist in all age groups!


(Wave, Noida and other theatres in Delhi and elsewhere)

In a week where gorgeous shallow characters abound the big screen, this one is finger deep! When the protagonist is described as “you're six inches and a pretty face”, you know the territory you are treading.

Ashton Kutcher plays a Los Angeles hustler, Nikki (Ashton Kutcher), who makes a living sleeping with wealthy, older women. He has turned his craft into a science where even an innocuous looking smile has a purpose, a point to gain.

His latest trophy is a 40-something lawyer Samantha (Anne Heche). Hooked to the hunk, she allows him to share her luxurious condominium. As he gets used to the good life, we get to see the vacuous options today's youth pick to rise up the social ladder.

The real problem begins when suddenly Nikki's heart, not one of his assets, starts beating for a waitress, Heather (Margarita Levieva), who turns out to be one from his ilk! In fact, she is an even more coldblooded player in the game.

As the hunter becomes the prey, director David Mackenzie expects us to identify with a man who is smug about the choices he has made in life. It is good that he meets his match. Isn't it? It's creditable that the gloomy and disturbing climax proves the point but the process is not tempting. It occasionally surprises us when Mackenzie deconstructs the murky alleys of high life but he fails to imbue the film with a robust cynical tone. He wants to punish Nikki without giving him a plausible chance to fight back.

It has partly to do with Ashton Kutcher's limited assets as an actor.

As long as he is a conceited gigolo who knows how female hormones work he very much looks the part but his transformation into a jilted lover doesn't strike a chord.

The way he plays Nikki, it seems his attraction to Heather has little to do with the necessities of heart. It comes across as an outgrowth of his narcissistic tendencies.

Spread thin, really thin!