Aaliya (Deepika Padukone), for example, is ambitious - which in Hindi film language usually translates to a person who doesn’t value relationships. And a person who shrieks a lot.
Aaliya does both.
At the other end of the spectrum is the boyfriend of 10 years, Abhay (Imran Khan), who is sober, sorted, and wants to subtly tame the shrew.
You dislike the central characters instantly - one is too clingy, the other wants to break up without a significant reason. And then there’s the single mother (Sharmila Tagore) and thrice-divorced aunt (Lillette Dubey), on both sides, respectively goading them to end up together or move on, depending on where we are in the story.
So Aaliya nurtures the ambition of becoming an actor. She gets through to a prestigious university in Australia. Only thing is, she lies to her mother that she’s going for a mass-communication course for a short period.
The boyfriend is outraged (despite it being a short-term course), because he’s wondering how the relationship will fit in her future plans. He applies emotional blackmail, she responds by wanting out. They are now officially broken up.
Girl enjoys her time at the university, making new friends, etcetera, until Clingy Boyfriend follows her to woo her back. Tired of the claustrophobic relationship, she wants space. He feels there’s no scope for space in a relationship.
There’s also the other angle of Aaliya’s focussed ambition versus Abhay’s conflict of working in his father’s business despite hating it. So far, bearable.
But now on, things go downhill. Aaliya and Abhay , now in Australia, live as neighbouring roomies in a sea-facing apartment that’s so cheap, it’s “too good to be true”.
Add two side characters (Shahana Goswami, Yudishtir Urs) - the owners of the place - who act as, well, side characters to the Boy and Girl.
Meanwhile the film morphs from a rom-com (romantic comedy) to a fairytale where everyone’s dreams come true and there’s that happily ever after.
The film’s weak foundation and lack of fun moments make it a cumbersome watch. Aaliya’s ambition and desire to follow her passion has everyone tied up in knots. The boyfriend asks her to make a choice between him and her career, though not in so many words.
When she gets a breakthrough opportunity after an audition, her mother walks away in a huff because that would mean Aaliya staying back in Australia for longer than promised.
The writers have built up characters that could be described in a couple of words - so lacking are they in depth. The dialogue shows an occasional spark, but is otherwise dull.
Deepika Padukone is spunky enough and has come to be identified with roles that defy the archetypal heroine mould.
Imran Khan appears in yet another rom-com after his debut film Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na and the recent I Hate Luv Storys. Khan is charming and dignified throughout, but his character - that’s supposed to manipulate the audience into agreeing with him - doesn’t quite work. And the bizarre ending has Khan looking as unconvinced as the audience viewing it.
Director Danish Aslam treads carefully (too carefully) to make a film he’s hoping will please all. So there’s the shaadi portions, the boyfriend’s chauvinism covered under the facade of him being lost without goals, the girl finally realising her ‘mistake’ and understanding that relationships are supremely valuable, and so on.
But the storytelling merely scratches the surface of the characters’ conflicts, preferring not to delve any further, and unconvincingly served to the audience.
Break-ups come in as many varieties as relationships. The concept of breaks-ups and relationships was dealt in a far spiffier manner (within the limitations of the genre) in Love Aaj Kal (also starring Deepika Padukone), where the film starts with a break-up, then proceeds to the couple meeting new people, and so on.
At least, it had a graph, and a conflict that the film then proceeded to resolve. Here, you’re not quite sure what the problem is: with the characters and between them as well.
Then how do you sympathize?
So there you have it: a trying-too-hard to be cool film where the effort is glaring. Watch it if you haven’t had enough of rom-coms already.
Rating: 2 stars